Defence lawyers object to changes

THE lawyers of three senior officials of the Fiji Times and The Fiji Times Ltd charged with one count each of sedition have again objected to the third amended information filed by the prosecution in the High Court in Suva yesterday.

Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula, The Fiji Times editor-in-chief, Fred Wesley, the company’s general manager and publisher Hank Arts, the company and a letter writer, Josaia Waqabaca, are charged with one count each of sedition.

The five appeared before Justice Rajasinghe at the High Court in Suva yesterday.

They were alleged to have published a letter in the Nai Lalakai in April last year that was likely to be seditious.

Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Mosese Korovou yesterday told the court the office filed the amended information, complying with all the orders of the court.

In response, Mr Arts, Wesley and the company’s lawyer, Feizal Haniff, said the amended information lacked particulars of the offence against Fiji Times Ltd and was therefore defective.

He said the company would not be able to enter a plea with the filed amended information.

Ravula’s lawyer, Devanesh Sharma, objected to the amended information for his client saying the Prosecution needed to clarify the allegations against his client on whether he had committed the offence of sedition or not.

He said the prosecution needed to get things right.

Mr Haniff objected to the amended information filed by the prosecution for Mr Arts and Wesley.

The defence has been given until November 16 to file submissions on the objection and prosecution to respond thereafter.

Justice Rajasinghe will hear the application of objection on November 27.

Meanwhile, the issue on whether Mr Haniff could represent Fiji Times Ltd and act as their counsel was also debated in court yesterday.

According to Mr Haniff, Section 213 subsections (4) and (5) of the Criminal Procedure Act set out the provisions on why he was appearing on behalf of the company.

He said this was because the company had already permitted him as a representative of the company in court but in terms of plea, the company would enter a plea in writing.

Mr Korovou objected to this yesterday saying that it was a conflict of interest.

However, Mr Sharma submitted that Mr Haniff could appear as a representative of the company. He said that once a plea was entered by a corporate entity, the counsel could represent the entity. Mr Sharma said there was no need for a physical presence of a representative of the company to be sitting in the dock. Justice Rajasinghe in a short ruling allowed Mr Haniff to continue representing Fiji Times Ltd.

Justice Rajasinghe expressed his disappointment with the prosecution yesterday after they amended the translation of the charge against the first accused without the leave of the court.

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