Growing Number Of People Face Sedition Charges In Fiji

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38 accused of ‘urging political violence,’ ‘inciting communal antagonism’

By Tevita Vuibau And Repeka Nasiko

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Aug. 18, 2015) – A further six people have been charged with one count each of sedition and one count each of urging political violence by Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde.

The six, Salimoni Serau, Penasio Manasa Luqa, Joseva Caucau, Isireli Serewai, Rokoua Duatini and Filimoni Naloga, were produced at the Tavua Magistrates Court yesterday and remanded in custody.

"The defence counsel requested bail but was informed by the court to make a formal application. The State asked for all six to be remanded in custody due to the seriousness of the charges and continuing police investigations into the use of firearms," the Director of Public Prosecutions said yesterday.

The matter has been adjourned to August 26, 2015 to be called at the Rakiraki Magistrates Court.

Meanwhile sixteen people from the Nadroga Navosa province also appeared at the Nadi Magistrates Court yesterday charged with one count of sedition and one count of inciting communal antagonism.

Charged are Ratu Inoke Tasere, Jimi Koroibete, Seru Kunalagi, Adi Cuvu Gavidi Atama, Ulaiyasi Rabua, Peniasi Naqau, Semi Tanikili, Ratu Osea Bolawaqatabu, Ratu Tevita Makutu, Mosese Nacavi, Eroni Rikoriko, Alifereti Nukunivou, Alifereti Gonewai, Raicula Rokovou, Adi Vasemaca Gonewai and Jocama Ratulevu.

The group is alleged to have engaged in a series of meetings between October 10, 2014 and November 4, 2014 and is alleged to have signed a document titled the establishment of the Nadroga Navosa Christian State.

The group appeared before Magistrate Seromi Turaga and applied for bail.

However, the application was refused by state lawyer Semi Nabitu who argued that the case was of public interest case and the accused persons were influential people in their communities.

He said the case was also pending further investigations by police who were still investigating other suspects from Nadroga.

Defense lawyer Aman Ravindra Singh said any issue of threat to public security was refuted in the media by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Minister for Defence Timoci Natuva and Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald.

He added that his clients are facing allegations that are believed to have occurred more than nine months ago and have proven to be peaceful members in their communities.

Mr Singh also said that state lawyers have yet to submit full disclosures to the court and to his office adding that it was dangerous to charge people without having full evidence.

In his judgment, Magistrate Turaga said while the issue of public security has been put to rest by three public figures, he endorsed the argument of the state that the group be remanded in custody.

The case has been transferred to the Lautoka High Court and adjourned to August 26.

In a second sedition case called yesterday in Tavua, three people have also been remanded in custody.

Timoci Nagata, Pita Camaimoala Vakatawa and Saimoni Nacolawa were all charged with one count of sedition and one count of inciting communal antagonism.

Mr Nacolawa had applied for bail on the grounds that he needed medical attention. The Tavua Magistrates Court ordered that a medical examination be carried out on the third accused.

The case has been transferred to the Lautoka High Court for mention on September 1.

Last week a total of 19 people were produced in Lautoka, Rakiraki and Tavua for sedition. The group from Nadroga and Tavua takes the tally to 38.

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