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Fiji TV pays charity to dodge contempt charge

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SUVA (RNZI/Pacific Media Watch): Fiji Television Ltd has paid US$1000 to a charity to have contempt of court proceedings against it dropped, Radio New Zealand International reports.

Senior staff, including the company¹s chief executive, Ken Clark, were summoned before Justice Andrew Wilson to explain their innocence or guilt in relation to a broadcast in February during the treason trial of rebel journalist Josefa Nata and politician Timoci Silatolu.

That was an interview with another coup convict, Iliesa Duvuloco, who was a witness in the treason trial.

The court was told that the interview put the treason trial at risk because it could have perverted the course of justice by affecting witnesses and assessors.

Justice Wilson said he was assuming that Fiji TV did not "deliberately, consciously or wickedly" do anything to impeach justice in the trial.

The proceedings were dropped in return for Fiji TV paying US$1000 to charity.

Fiji TV says there was no intention to interfere with the course of justice and no contempt was intended.

* Justice Wilson sentenced both Nata and Silatolu in the High Court at Suva last Friday to life imprisonment for treason. Silatolu must serve a minimum nine years before he can be released and Nata seven years.



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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