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Court Hearing Over Journalist Vs Rabuka Closed

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COURT HEARING OVER JOURNALIST vs RABUKA CLOSED

SUVA (Pacific Media Watch): A Fiji court hearing a paternity suit against former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka filed by controversial senior Fiji Times journalist Margaret Wise has been closed to journalists, report local news media.

According to the Fiji Times of 26 January 2002, the Magistrates Court hearing of the case on January 25 was closed in a move described by a court source as "not regular practice".

The paper said Magistrate Amani Rokotinaviti could not be reached for comment and questions faxed to the Solicitor-General's Office were not answered.

The police court orderly told the paper he had closed the doors on the instructions of the court clerk.

The court was to determine whether 1987 coup leader Rabuka fathered journalist Margaret Wise's 18-month-old son, the Fiji Times reported.

The lawsuit was filed by Wise after Rabuka allegedly failed to honour a settlement.

In the first of three court hearings, Rabuka said a DNA test was in his favour.

In the following hearing, Rabuka said he could not understand the findings, but was willing to pay a weekly maintenance of F$50.

The Fiji Sun reported that Wise had rejected this and wanted Rabuka to admit paternity before a financial settlement was discussed.

The case has been adjourned until February 11.

* PMW reports: Wise has been at the centre of controversial allegations over so-called "skirt journalism", most recently in an open letter to the Sun on January 7 by New Labour Unity Party general secretary Tomasi Tokalauvere.

* Earlier (Fiji) Sun/PIR report link: http://pidp.eastwestcenter.org/pireport/2002/January/01-01-15.htm

+++niuswire

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