FIJI METHODISTS TAKEN TO COURT OVER MEETING

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18 ministers, executives charged with undermining state

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Mar. 8, 2010) – In Fiji, a group of 18 Methodist ministers and executives charged with breaching Fiji’s public emergency regulations last year appeared in the Suva Magistrates court today.

[PIR editor’s note: The Public Emergency Regulation was enacted on April 2009 with a Presidential decree. Section 16 of the Regulations stipulates that the State has the authority to stop any broadcast or publication it believes could cause "disorder", "undue demands on security forces", "promote disaffection or public alarm" or "undermine the Government and the State of Fiji".]

Magistrate Kaweendra Namayakkra allowed bail for the 18 and adjourned the case to March 23 following a request from state lawyer David Toganivalu.

Toganivalu made an application for the charges against the 18 to be consolidated with charges against nine other church ministers also facing similar charges from last year.

It is alleged that the 18 participated in a meeting of the Methodist Church of Fiji standing committee on 17 July, 2009.

It is also alleged that the 18, knowing that the public emergency regulations disallowed senior church figures Reverend Manasa Lasaro and Reverend Tomasi Kanailagi from attending the meeting, became part of it.

The 18 who appeared in court included Immanuel Reuben, Litia Varo, Wame Gavidi, Epineri Vakadewavosa, Ifereimi Naruma, Kelera Wesele, Leba Laveti, Emily Fatiaki, Joseva Katonibau, William Lucas, Tevita Nawadra, Isoa Vere, Jone Davule, Viliame Gonelevu, Eroni Moce, Samuela Tamani, Isikeli Tuitubou and Ili Vunisiwai.

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