Proceedings have been filed in the Suva High Court on behalf of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to sue two prominent individuals for defamation.
There are indications that more people will be sued for defamation in coming weeks as well.
Papers filed last Wednesday (March 7) are against Fiji Labour Party Parliamentary Leader and lawyer Aman Ravindra-Singh and SODELPA Member of Parliament Ratu Isoa Tikoca.
In the first case, lawyer for Mr Bainimarama and Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, Devanesh Sharma of R Patel Lawyers stated that Mr Singh had posted an unsubstantiated article titled Regime Dirty Politics on his Facebook page.
In this Mr Singh claimed that Mr Bainimarama and Mr Sayed-Khaiyum had orchestrated temple break-ins. He did not back his posting with any evidence. When this edition went to press, the posting was still on Mr Singh’s page.
In papers filed in court, Mr Sharma stated that the statements and words in Mr Singh’s article are:
- categorically denied by Mr Bainimarama and Mr Sayed-Khaiyum,
- false and malicious, and
- that the statements were designed to impugn the character and reputation of the PM and AG.
Mr Sharma is seeking damages for libel and slander, an order that Mr Singh apologise and that apology be published in the newspaper and that the article be removed from his Facebook page.
In the second matter, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum is suing Ratu Isoa for comments he made during an interview with a Sydney community radio station in about late January or mid-February and the same interview was posted on Facebook page – Fiji Exposed Forum.
In court papers filed, Mr Sharma stated that the same video was transcribed by the administrator of the Facebook page.
A whole barrage of remarks attributed to Ratu Isoa were posted up which Mr Sharma said were false. Mr Sharma said Ratu Isoa had said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was engaged in criminal and illegal scheme, was abusing his powers as a minister and had ordered the military and police to arrest striking Air Terminal Services employees which are outright lies.
Mr Sharma stated that these were outright denied by Mr Sayed-Khaiyum and he is seeking an order that Mr Ratu Isoa apologise within seven days and the apology be printed prominently in the newspaper. He is seeking pre-judg,ment and post-judgment interest on any award of damages and costs of the action, damages for defamation.
Meanwhile, there is also indication that more people will be sued for spreading lies and misinformation, in coming days.