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Four deny sedition charges

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Four deny sedition charges L - R: Motibhai Group Director Jinesh Patel, who pleaded not guilty on behalf of the Fiji Times Limited, Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley pleaded not guilty, Fiji Times column writer Josaia Waqabaca pleaded not guilty and Fiji Times publisher Hank Arts

Three executives of Fiji Times Limited and a Nai Lalakai column writer denied charges of sedition and aiding and abetting sedition yesterday.

Column writer Josaia Waqabaca, Nai Lalakai Editor Anare Ravula, Fiji Times Editor-in-Chief Fred Wesley and Fiji Times Publisher Hank Arts all pleaded not guilty in the High Court in Suva.

Motibhai Group Director Jinesh Patel appeared on behalf of Fiji Times Limited and pleaded not guilty to sedition.

On the first count of sedition, between April 20 and 27 of 2016, Waqabaca is alleged to have done a seditious act, namely submitted an article written by him under the heading “Sa notisi taki na Vunilawa” translated as “Notice to the Attorney-General” for publication in the Nai Lalakai newspaper with a seditious intention to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Fiji, namely between Non-Muslim and Muslims.

On the second count, Ravula is charged with aiding and abetting sedition.

On or about April 27, 2016 Ravula is alleged to have aided and abetted Arts to publish an article under the heading “Lewa ni Notisi” translated as “Order of Notice” in the Nai Lalakai newspaper published on April 27, 2016, which was a seditious publication in that it had a tendency to promote ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Fiji, namely between Non-Muslim and Muslims.

The charge read that as the editor of the Nai Lalakai newspaper Ravula was allegedly under a contractual duty to assist Arts to publish the April 27, 2016, edition of the Nai Lalakai newspaper by ensuring editorial standards were maintained, including a duty to prevent the publication of any seditious publication therein, and his failure to prevent the publication of the said seditious publication aided and abetted Arts to publish the said seditious publication.

On the third count of aiding and abetting sedition it is alleged that on or about April 27, 2016, Wesley aided and abetted Arts to publish an article under the heading “Lewa ni Notisi” translated as “Order of Notice” in the Nai Lalakai newspaper published on April 27, 2016 which was a seditious publication in that it had a tendency to promote ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Fiji, namely between non-Muslims and Muslims.

As the Editor-in-Chief of the Nai Lalakai newspaper Wesley was allegedly under a contractual duty to assist Arts to publish the April 27, 2016, edition of the Nai Lalakai newspaper by ensuring editorial standards were maintained, including a duty to prevent the publication of any seditious publication therein, and his failure to prevent the publication of the said seditious publication aided and abetted Arts to publish the said seditious publication.

On the fourth count Arts is charged with sedition.

On April 27, 2016 as the publisher of the Nai Lalakai newspaper he allegedly published an article under the heading “Lewa ni Notisi” translated “Order of Notice” in the April 27, 2016 edition of the Nai Lalakai newspaper which was a seditious publication in that it had a tendency to promote ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Fiji, namely between non-Muslims and Muslims.

For the fifth count of sedition, Fiji Times Limited being a company having its registered office at 177 Victoria Parade, Suva and as the printer of the Nai Lalakai newspaper, allegedly printed the April 27, 2016 edition of the Nai Lalakai newspaper which contained an article under the heading “Lewa ni Notisi” translated as “Order of Notice” which was a seditious publication in that it had a tendency to promote ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Fiji, namely between Non-Muslim and Muslims.

The case has been adjourned to April 24, 2018, for ruling on the State’s notice of motion and for pre-trial conference.

Bail for all accused persons has been extended.

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