20 Mar 2003

Fiji treason trial verdict yet to be reached

3:59 pm on 20 March 2003

A verdict in the treason trial of Fiji coup accomplices, Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu, is now unlikely this afternoon.

This follows several delays caused by requests for documents and information by the five assessors.

Justice Andrew Wilson refused the first request when the assessors asked for a transcript of his summing up of the case.

He said in his judicial experience, such a request was unusual.

The defence and prosecution lawyer also strongly objected to the request.

Today the assessors asked the court for transcripts of Nata's evidence as well as those of his defence witnesses.

Judge Wilson said he had a job to do and he had to do it the right way, even if the assessors were disappointed.

He said he would read out the transcripts of all the witnesses in an open court where the assessors would be required to take notes.

Radio Fiji says these developments could mean that the assessors may not be able to reach a verdict today.