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Journalist To Give Testimony In Treason Trial

FIJI: Accused Journalist To Give Testimony In Treason Trial

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SUVA (FijiLive/Pacific Media Watch): Fiji treason accused Ratu Timoci Silatolu, a deposed MP, and journalist Josefa Nata will be giving sworn evidence in court when the trial resumes on Monday, the Daily Post reports.

The two, who appeared before High Court judge Justice Andrew Wilson in the High Court in Suva yesterday, will also be providing witnesses, who are on the island prison of Nukulau.

They are accused over their alleged role during rogue businessman George Speight's attempted coup on 19 May 2000. Speight is currently serving a life sentence for treason.

In court yesterday, Nata, former training coordinator of the now defunct Fiji Journalism Institute (FJI) who was publicist for attempted coup frontman Speight, and Silatolu, named in the post-coup "cabinet", chose to give sworn evidence after being told of their rights by Justice Wilson.

Justice Wilson addressed the court and its assessors on the conditions of giving the two accused the freedom of the right to present evidence in court to support their defence against the charges or their right to remain silent.

Silatolu confirmed that he would present sworn testimony as well as Nata's defence counsel Alexander Wolf on his client¹s behalf.

Justice Wilson asked the two if they were willing to give evidence under cross-examination as defence witnesses, and informed them of their right to call upon witnesses for their defence.

Nata and Silatolu confirmed their willingness to be brought before court as defence witnesses and also thanked the court for acknowledging their right to call other witnesses.

The treason case was adjourned after there was no objection to the application of adjournment by Silatolu¹s defence counsel Sevuloni Valenitabua.

Silatolu will take the witness stand on Monday morning.



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 based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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