Nai Lalakai trial: Judge to rule on no-case-to-answer application

Lawyers Nick Barnes (left) and Wylie Clarke. Picture: FT FILE

High Court judge Justice Thushara Rajasinghe will deliver his ruling tomorrow on the no case to answer application by defence counsel of The Fiji Times, three of its senior officials and a letter writer.
The four defence lawyers today responded to the prosecution’s reply to the no case to answer application.
Nai Lalakai letter writer Josaia Waqabaca’s lawyer Aman Ravindra-Singh in his response said the prosecution presented no evidence in court that the alleged seditious article caused ill-will.
Mr Singh said ill-will was an emotion and no evidence was presented to prove that people became emotional after they read the alleged seditious article.
He said not a single person apart from the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs permanent secretary Naipote Katonitabua simply had his ill-will and hostility disturbed.
Mr Singh said there was no evidence to prove that the alleged seditious article caused ill-will and hostility between the population of Fiji particularly the Muslims and the Non-Muslims.
Nai Lalakai newspaper editor Anare Ravula’s lawyer, Devanesh Sharma in his response stated his client’s employment contract did not specify that he was supposed to report to The Fiji Times Publisher, Hank Arts.
Mr Sharma also said his client’s contract also did not specify that he was also tasked to ensure that editorial standards were to be maintained.
The counsel for The Fiji Times, Publisher Hank Arts and Editor in Chief Fred Wesley, Queens Counsel Marc Corlett said the prosecution in their reply submission last Friday had acknowledged that they had no idea about how a newspaper company operates.
Mr Corlett said in the context of no case to answer application, it was not appropriate for prosecution to throw the burden of proving who did, in fact, know about this article and authorised it onto the defendants.
The Fiji Times lawyer Wylie Clarke said the State had presumed that the company had seditious intention.
Mr Clarke said if one was to read the States’s response, it was obvious that a lot of hypotheticals had been thrown around.
He said it was obvious that the State does not have any idea who should be found guilty in this case.
The Fiji Times is charged with one count of printing a seditious publication.
Hank Arts is charged with one count of publishing in the Nai Lalakai a seditious article while the writer Josaia Waqabaca is charged with one count of submitting for publication an article written by him with a seditious intention while, Nai Lalakai Editor Anare Ravula and Editor in Chief, Fred Wesley are charged with one count each of having aided and abetted the publication of a letter in the Nai Lalakai newspaper on April 27, 2016.
A more detailed report in tomorrow’s edition of The Fiji Times and also in our E-Edition.

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