24 Jul 2009

Two more Fiji Methodist leaders released but warned not to meet

4:07 pm on 24 July 2009

Two former Fiji Methodist Church presidents have been released on bail but warned not to meet.

The Reverend Manasa Lasaro and the Reverend Tomasi Kanailagi appeared in court this afternoon on charges of contravening the Public Emergency Regulations.

The ministers were among several top clergymen questioned by police over plans to go ahead with the church's annual conference in spite of its cancellation by the interim government.

Yesterday, the church's president and general secretary, along with the country's highest ranking female chief, were also released on bail but prohibited from making public statements.

Our correspondent in Fiji, Matelita Ragogo, says today the defence lawyer asked how the word meeting was defined.

"They're pastors and wherever they are it is going to be a meeting. So what Magistrate Eparama Rokoika said is obviously they can attend a church service and all these other things but they cannot participate anymore in meetings where the annual church conference will be discussed or politics."

Matelita Ragogo says this was clarified today because when those released yesterday were having afternoon tea together they received a phone call from the military telling them they were having an illegal meeting.