13 Aug 2009

Fiji Methodist leaders plead not guilty over PER violations

1:28 pm on 13 August 2009

Methodist Church leaders in Fiji have pleaded not guilty to charges related to breaking public emergency regulations.

Fiji Live reports that church president Reverend Ame Tugaue, general secretary Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu, and the former presidents Reverend Tomasi Kanailagi and Reverend Manasa Lasaro appeared in the Suva Magistrates Court today.

All four denied charges of participating in a church meeting in contravention of the regulations.

They relate to a church standing committee meeting which the former presidents are alleged to have attended although a government permit for the meeting was issued on the condition they would not attend.

The charges will now go ahead to a pretrial in September while a trial date is set for November 19th.

Fiji Live says the church leaders were accompanied by Rewa high chief Ro Teimumu Kepa, who is also facing charges which will be discussed with state lawyers in two weeks time.

The paramount chief had continued to offer to host the church's annual conference after it had been banned by the interim government.

The church later agreed to cancel the conference.