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Times awaits fate

Mere Naleba
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

FIJI Times Limited lawyer Jon Apted yesterday told presiding judge Justice William Callanchini that the newspaper company is ready to make a public apology, which would be printed on the front page of the newspaper.

This was during the mitigation hearing between the State and the Fiji Times Limited after the High Court found the newspaper company, the publisher and editor guilty of contempt of court for words used in an article published on November 7 last year.

The court had also made findings that a subsequent article published on June 30 this year was contemptuous.

In his mitigation submission, Mr Apted told the court the publication of the two articles in 2011 and 2012 was not intended to scandalise or disrespect the court.

He said the articles were published as a result of errors in the newsroom and apologised on behalf of the company, publisher and editor in court.

"There was no intention on the part of the newspaper or anyone to scandalise the court," he said.

Mr Apted asked the court to consider not imposing any further punishment on the publisher and editor beyond the finding of guilt as neither had been aware of the contents of the articles which had been published through the errors of staff members.

He submitted that the Fiji Times Limited should be fined no more than $10,000 which was the amount of the fine in an Australian case which he contended had similarities to The Fiji Times case.

In making his submission for the Attorney-General, acting Solicitor General Sharvada Sharma asked the court to impose an appropriate penalty that would serve as a deterrent to members of the public.

"Despite all the apologies, Fiji Times continued to publish reckless articles, scandalous articles against the judiciary," Mr Sharma said.

He had asked that Fiji Times be fined no less than $500,000 to be paid within a given period of time and be ordered to give a bond for good behaviour for a period of two years.

Mr Sharma submitted that the owners and directors of the company be ordered to enter into a $500,000 bond on behalf of Fiji Times Limited to be of good behavior for a period of two years.

He also sought three and six months imprisonment sentences for the publisher and editor respectively with good behaviour bonds.

The judgment sentencing will be delivered on notice next year.


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