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Emotions high after acquittal of Fiji Times sedition case

May 22, 2018 7:10 pm

The four persons charged in the Fiji Times sedition case have been acquitted.

Delivering his judgement late yesterday afternoon to a crammed courtroom Judge Justice Thushara Rajasinghe acquitted writer Josaia Waqabaca, Nai Lalakai editor Anare Ravula, Fiji Times Editor-in-Chief Fred Wesley and Fiji Times Publisher Hank Arts of all charges.

Emotions were high outside the Suva High court after the Fiji Times executives and writer Josaia Waqabaca were acquitted of charges that have been hanging over their heads for almost two years.

Fiji Times publisher Hank Arts says he is relieved that the matter has come to an end.

“At the end of the day it is a victory for the press, for the media in Fiji and we should all be happy with that so we should now be encouraged to keep going with the way we have been and we are, stay within the law, stay within decency but report honestly and balanced without fear.”

Fiji Times Lawyer, Wylie Clarke says he is relieved that the case is over.

“It’s been a very tough and challenging time and it’s such a huge relief for all of us that’s it’s over now.”

Josaia Waqabaca’s lawyer, Aman Ravindra-Singh says he’s happy with the decision.

“We are relieved and very happy that we finally have the right results.”

Waqabaca also shared similar sentiments.

“I thank my lawyer for fighting my case legally and I also thank the almighty god for helping everyone here.”

The case arose after it was alleged in April 2016 that writer Waqabaca submitted a seditious article to the Nai Lalakai newspaper which could have caused feelings of ill-will and hostility between Fijians, in particular Muslims and non-Muslims.

High court Judge Justice Thushara Rajasinghe said the prosecution failed to prove the article was seditious and noted that Waqabaca was suggesting a national reconciliation in the article.

Publisher Hank Arts was acquitted of sedition, while Anare Ravula and Fred Wesley were acquitted of aiding and abetting Arts in publishing a seditious article.

The High court Judge’s acquittal of all four charged was in concurrence with the opinion of the three High court assessors on Friday.