20 Jun 2003

Fiji treason trial sentencing due next week

4:04 pm on 20 June 2003

Fiji treason convicts Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu will be sentenced next week for their part in the May 2000 coup.

Silatolu and Nata were convicted in March of conspiring to overthrow the lawfully elected government, taking and detaining the government members as hostages by force of arms, and purporting to form an illegal administration.

They were also 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.

Radio Fiji says when the court resumed today, Justice Andrew Wilson also ruled that there was enough evidence to charge a Fiji Television presenter, Riaz Sayed Khayum, with contempt of court for a broadcast made during the course of the treason trial.

This relates to a video tape shown in court today of an interview with one of the earlier coup convicts, Iliesa Duvuloco, in which he talked about his life on Nukulau Island where Nata and Silatolu were also held.

The broadcast was made despite a court order issued by Justice Wilson that only evidence given in court about the coup could be published.

The deputy director of public prosecutions, Peter Ridgeway, described the broadcast as reckless as it would have affected the assessors of the treason trial in how they dealt with the evidence.

The contempt of court hearing will begin on June the 30th.

Meanwhile, there has been no word of when the supreme court will deliver its ruling on the multi-party cabinet case in which the Qarase government is appealing against two earlier court rulings that the Labour Party should be part of the government.