TREASON TRANSCRIPTS PRICED IN THE STRATOSPHERE

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SUVA, Fiji (AFP/Pacific Media Watch) - Australian aid provided transcriptions of Fiji's high profile treason trial were Friday being turned into a money spinning operation for the High Court Registry, Asia-Pacific Network reports.

An Australian company, Auscript, is providing full tape and written transcripts of the case against politician Timoci Silatolu and journalist Jo Nata who are in the dock, each facing a single treason charge containing seven overt acts. They have pleaded not guilty and are before Justice Andrew Wilson, of Australia, sitting in the Fiji High Court.

Auscript has previously covered major trials in Samoa and Papua New Guinea with the media provided with transcripts on disk, and in the case of Samoa, via a freely available webpage.

Justice Wilson, on an application from AFP, ruled in court Wednesday morning that the transcripts should be made available to the media at F$1 (50 US cents) a page.

The opening day session runs to 46 pages and the Thursday session which featured deposed prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry, is 65 pages long.

The High Court registry now advises that while the service is funded by Australia, it will cost reporters five dollars a page, as a "photocopying fee".

The large font pages are attracting no media customers given that they are likely to cost $25 a day.

Pacific Media Watch Online Website: http://www.pmw.c2o.org 

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