21 Mar 2003

Fiji treason sentence due next week

5:01 pm on 21 March 2003

The judge hearing the treason trial of Fiji coup accomplices Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu has deferred sentencing until next week.

Justice Andrew Wilson says the high court will be adjourned until Tuesday to consider sentencing.

Yesterday, the five assessors reached a unanimous verdict of guilty on both accused and the judge agreed with the guilty opinion.

The two were convicted of conspiring to overthrow the lawfully elected government, taking and detaining the government members hostage by force of arms, and purporting to form an illegal administration.

They have also been convicted of unlawfully purporting to abrogate the constitution, of unlawfully participating in the swearing in of an interim government and of breaching the duty of allegiance they owed to the lawful government.

The maximum penalty for treason in Fiji is now life imprisonment after parliament abolished the death penalty for it last year.

The new law came into effect after the coup front man George Speight's sentence of death for treason was immediately commuted to a life term.