Nai Lalakai trial: Times trio plead not guilty

Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula, left, and lawyer Nicholas Barnes, right, outside the High Court in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula, left, and lawyer Nicholas Barnes, right, outside the High Court in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

THREE senior officials of The Fiji Times Ltd, the company and a letter writer have pleaded not guilty to charges of sedition and aiding and abetting the publication of a letter that was alleged to have been seditious and published in the Nai Lalakai newspaper.

Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula, The Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley, the company’s general manager Hank Arts and Fiji Times Ltd and the letter writer, Josaia Waqabaca, are charged with one count each of having published or aided and abetted the publication of a letter in the Nai Lalakai newspaper on April 27, 2016 that is alleged to be seditious.

The five appeared before judge Justice Thushara Rajasinghe at the High Court in Suva yesterday where the amended information was read out to the parties who pleaded not guilty.

Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Lee Burney yesterday agreed with the proposal by the defence to use real time recording device during the trial and the transcripts of the proceedings would also be provided to all parties.

Mr Burney also sought co-operation from defence to provide original clean employment contracts which they had previously asked for.

He said the prosecution was looking at finishing the trial within a week but it would depend on the number of witnesses that they intended to call during trial proper.

Ravula is represented by Devanesh Sharma, Wesley and Mr Arts were represented by Nick Barnes of Munro Leys while the company was represented by Wylie Clarke of Howards Lawyers Fiji.

Bail has been extended for all the accused persons and they will reappear on April 24 to sort pre-trial matters.