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Mara Tries To Stop Rabuka Book

SUVA: A legal battle is looming between the Fiji Islands President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, and the former prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, in the wake of a media controversy over the coup leader's book, the Fiji Times reports.

Yesterday, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara's lawyers filed a writ in the High Court seeking to stop the sale of Mr Rabuka's biography, Rabuka of Fiji.

Filed by Sherani and Company, the writ also seeks damages for libel and court costs.

The writ cites Rabuka, biographer Professor John Sharpham and Central Queensland University Press, the publishers.

Ratu Sir Kamisese is seeking an injunction to prevent the three defendants or their agents from publishing, distributing, selling or exposing for sale the book titled Rabuka of Fiji, the authorised biography of Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka.

The book was launched in Canberra, Australia, two days ago and will be launched in New Zealand next week.

The writ claims that:

* Rabuka had always publicly claimed he acted on his own when he staged the 1987 coups.

* The book falsely and maliciously stated that Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was involved in the planning of the coup.

* Parts of the book were libellous and had put Ratu Sir Kamisese in public ridicule, odium and contempt.

Hemendra Nagin of Sherani and Company said Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara had instructed that legal proceedings for libel be filed.

In an interview two days ago, Rabuka said he expected a disclaimer to be issued by Ratu Sir Kamisese but that he would stand by his statements.

Rabuka and his publicists did not answer messages left for them yesterday.

Meanwhile, the launching of Rabuka's book in Canberra was extensively covered by national television and major newspapers in Australia.

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PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media, the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, and Pactok Communications, in Sydney and Port Moresby.

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