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Times case in court

Aqela Susu
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Fiji Times Ltd lawyer, Feizal Haniff is maintaining his objections to the amended information on sedition charges against Fiji Times Ltd, its editor-in-chief, Fred Wesley and its general manager and publisher, Hank Arts.

The three who are charged with Nai Lalakai editor, Anare Ravula and letter writer, Josaia Waqabaca appeared before Justice Thushara Rajasinghe at the High Court in Suva yesterday.

They are alleged to have published or caused to publish a letter in the Nai Lalakai newspaper in April last year that was likely to be seditious.

During the hearing of the objection in court yesterday, Mr Haniff said the amended information for the sedition charge against Wesley did not specify the conduct alleged against Wesley.

He also said the amended information must show how Wesley knew that his act would aid and abet Mr Arts (fourth accused) in the commission of the offence.

He said this was necessary for Wesley to know before they proceeded to trial.

Mr Haniff also submitted the same for Mr Arts.

In respect of Fiji Times Ltd, Mr Haniff informed the High Court yesterday that the physical element of the offence provisioned under Section 52 of the Crimes Act 2009 which states: "If a physical element of an offence is committed by an employee, agent or officer of a body corporate acting within the actual or apparent scope of his or her employment, or within his or her actual or apparent authority, the physical element must also be attributed to the body corporate" has not been specified in the amended information on the sedition charge against Fiji Times Ltd.

Mr Haniff also told the court yesterday that he withdrew his objection on the fault element but maintained his objection on the physical element of the fifth count. Ravula's lawyer, Devanesh Sharma who earlier objected to the amended information for his client, saying that the prosecution needed to clarify the allegations against his client as to whether he had committed the offence of sedition or not, yesterday withdrew his objection.

He said this was something that would be dealt with during trial proper.

In his response to Mr Haniff's submissions, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Lee Burney argued that in respect of the physical element of the charge against the company, the identity of the individual who printed the article was not something the prosecution had to prove.

Mr Burney also submitted that the allegations by the prosecution were that the aforementioned article had a tendency to create ill-will which was what made it a seditious publication.

Justice Rajasinghe will deliver his ruling on the objection tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the counsels will reappear before Justice Rajasinghe for a pre-trial conference this Friday to clear all pre-trial matters before the trial starts next Tuesday. Bail has been extended for all accused persons.

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