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'I Was Only Following Instructions': Nata

'I Was Only Following Instructions': Nata

SUVA (FijiLive/Pacific Media Watch): Media adviser Josefa Nata swore allegiance to former President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara but helped in the swearing-in of Ratu Jope Seniloli for the release of hostages, particularly Adi Koila Nailatikau, the High Court heard yesterday.

The Daily Post reports that prosecutor Peter Ridgeway asked Nata in the treason trial if he had sought permission of the Tui Nayau, Ratu Sir Kamisese, to be able to speak on his behalf or if he had contacted any of his relatives on the role of seeing to Adi Koila¹s release.

Nata, former training coordinator of the now defunct Fiji Journalism Institute, said he had direct access to Ratu Sir Kamisese and he did not have to seek permission or authority to seek Adi Koila's release or to speak on Ratu Sir Kamisese's behalf.

Nata told the court it was not unusual for anyone with his cultural obligation to Ratu Sir Kamisese to act in the way he did.

He then said he did not at any time speak on Ratu Sir Kamisese's behalf or was he there to represent him.

Nata is on trial over his alleged role in the attempted coup by businessman George Speight in May 2000. Speight is serving a life sentence for treason on the prison isle of Nukulau.

When first shown footage of Nata reading out the oath of allegiance in the swearing-in ceremony of Ratu Jope Seniloli as President in Parliament, Nata said he really did not know what was going on and that he was just following instructions.

Nata was asked by Ridgeway if he could recall and identify if the person instructing him was one of the people shown in the footage to be present during the swearing-in ceremony was Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure, Vodo Tuberi, Simione Kaitani, Lepani Tonitonivanua, Iliesa Duvuloco or Peceli Rinakama.

Nata first told the court he could not recall who was instructing him.

Then he said the person instructing him in the footage of the swearing-in ceremony could have been Ratu Rakuita.

Nata told the court the only thing on his mind was the quick release of the hostages, particularly Adi Koila, which was his paramount consideration.

He was offered time by Ridgeway to be able to reflect on a transcript that was of footage showing him having a conversation on the phone, which was said to be a journalist because of the question and answer interview conducted.

The conversation showed Nata referring to a document that was issued to them (Nata and the usurpers of Government) from the Great Council of Chiefs.

The footage was said to be taken after the Great Council of Chiefs had offered proposals to George Speight and his group to reach a resolution to the crisis.

Nata said the chiefs meeting had been convened by Sitiveni Rabuka who was chairman at that time.

The trial continues.



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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 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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