FIJI TIMES 3, LETTER WRITER, FACE COURT
They are charged with inciting communal antagonism
Fiji Times Limited, three of its senior staff, and a letter writer, appeared in court yesterday charged with inciting communal antagonism. Fiji Times publisher Hank Arts, editor-in-chief Fred Wesley, editor Nai Lalakai, the company’s iTaukei newspaper, Anare Ravula and a letter writer to the Nai Lalakai, Josaia Waqabaca, appeared before Suva magistrate Shageeth Somaratne. Representing Fiji Times Limited and Arts, Wesley and Ravula are Nick Barnes and Ronald Singh of Munro Leys. Waqabaca was unrepresented when the matter was called yesterday, but has opted for private counsel.
Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions was represented by assistant DPP Lee Burney. The charges stem from an article which was published in the Nai Lalakai on April 27, 2016. Content of the article was read in court. The content read: “Ko ira na Musulomani era sega ni taukei kei Viti,
sai ira nai lawalawa oqo era a curu botea na vanua eso ka dua vei ira ko Bangladesh mai Idia, kara vei vakamatei kina, kucuvi na nodra yalewa, ra vakararawataki na gone me yacova sara nira sa lewa ka sa nodra tu edaidai” (Translated as “Muslims are not the indigenous of this country. These are people that have invaded other nations, for example, Bangladesh in India, where they killed, raped and abused their women and children. Today they have gone to the extent of having a part in the running of the country”) Mr Burney while referring to Waqabaca during bail discussions, informed the court that Waqabaca “was the one with poison pen” and Mr Burney insisted that Waqabaca’s travel documents be surrendered as part of bail conditions. He also informed the court that the four were charged with an indictable offence.
All four have been released on strict bail conditions, on a bail bond of $1000, warned not to interfere with witnesses, surrender their travel documents and to appear in court on August 31. Surety for Wesley is his father Fred Wesley Senior, surety for Arts is a director of Fiji Times Limited Jinesh Patel while surety for Ravula is Fiji Times
Limited’s financial controller Abhishek Narayan. State has been given 14 days to provide second phase disclosures to the accused. Also present in court observing the proceedings was a European Union delegate. Before the four were presented in court, they were rounded up and taken to the Criminal Investigations Department headquarters at Toorak, Suva, around12.30pm.
The four, in the presence of their lawyer, were charged at the CID headquarters, where they had their lunch before being escorted in two vehicles to Court. They waited in the holding cell for about 40 minutes before the matter was called.
Fiji Times publisher Hank Arts in the Suva Court holding cell yesterday.
Fiji Times Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula (middle), and Josaia Waqabaca (right), outside the Suva Court yesterday.
Fiji Times Editor-in-Chief Fred Wesley outside the Suva Court yesterday.
Josaia Waqabaca at the Suva Court holding cell yesterday.
Photo: Ronald Kumar