Times trial date re-fixed, counsels ready to proceed

THREE senior officials of The Fiji Times, a letter writer and the company will now stand trial from December 11 to 15 after the High Court in Suva re-fixed the trial date for the five.

Fiji Times Ltd is charged with its publisher/general manager Hank Arts, The Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley, Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula and a letter writer, Josaia Waqabaca, for sedition in relation to a statement published in the Nai Lalakai publication.

The five were 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.

The initial trial date was set to begin from next Tuesday but Mr Waqabaca’s lawyer, Aman Ravindra-Singh, had asked for a deferment because of his engagement in another High Court trial.

All counsels for the five accused persons informed the court yesterday they were ready to proceed to trial.

Mr Arts, Wesley and the Fiji Times Ltd’s lawyer, Feizal Haniff and Ravula’s lawyer, Devanesh Sharma, also informed the court yesterday they would not be calling any witnesses.

But according to Mr Sharma, he would see how the State’s case proceeded before he would determine whether to call a witness or not.

This was after Justice Thushara Rajasinghe refused an objection by Mr Haniff, that the third amended information on the sedition charges for all his clients were still defective.

Meanwhile, the five also pleaded not guilty to the offence yesterday. Bail has been extended for the five. They will reappear in court tomorrow.