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Accused Lied Through Their Teeth: Judge

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By ZAMEEL KHAN, of the University of the South Pacific journalism programme March 21, 2003

SUVA (Wansolwara Online/Pacific Media Watch): Justice Andrew Wilson today found Fiji journalist Josefa Nata and deposed parliamentarian Timoci Silatolu guilty of treason in the High Court in Suva, saying the two had substantially discredited themselves during the trial.

The judge added that one did not "have to be Einstein to work out that they told many lies".

This follows yesterday¹s unanimous guilty verdict by the five assessors in the trial.

Justice Wilson said that the circumstantial evidence against Nata and Silatolu was "more than sufficient" to prove their guilt.

He said the trial had all the hallmarks of the classic case of treason, which had its roots going back to 14th century England.

Justice Wilson said "each of the two accused in the real sense had convicted himself during the course of the trial".

He said that he found the "lengthy evidence" given by the two accused was substantially discredited and "each had told and maintained in their frustration, many lies".

Justice Wilson said their evidence would be best described by a metaphor used by coup frontman George Speight, which Justice Wilson rephrased: "You don¹t have to be an Einstein to work out that each of the accused told many lies."

With regards to the evidence given in by state witnesses, Justice Wilson said he had found that a majority told the truth.

He said two witnesses in particular, deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and Senator 'Atu Emberson-Bain, were very credible and impressive witnesses and were "extremely courageous for the whole of Fiji as witnesses for the trial".

Nata and Silatolu will be sentenced on March 25.



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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