‘Jail for life’ offer for freedom of co-accused in Fiji sedition trial

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Sailasa Wairoaroa Malani leads the way out of the High Court in Lautoka with the 14 accused who were convicted and served sentences for 33 counts of sedition yesterday. Image: Repeka Nasiko/The Fiji Times

By Repeka Nasiko in Lautoka, Fiji

One accused walked away a free man yesterday while another offered to serve a life sentence if the High Court in Lautoka set free the other 13 co-accused in the Fiji sedition case.

As the month-long Ra sedition trial came to an end, Tui Nalawa Ratu Epeli Niudamu was handed a suspended sentence of two years while the remaining 14 accused were each handed partial sentences that ranged from 18 months to three years.

Ulaiyasi Rabua Tuivomo, however, caught everyone off guard when he addressed Justice Aruna Aluthge, saying he would serve all sentences meted out to the other 13 accused.

“I want to request this honourable court if it is possible if all the accused could be released and I could go to jail for life,” he said.

“If it’s not possible then I will respect the decision of the court.”

The group was accused of conducting secret military training in a remote area of the northern Ra province, as part of a wider effort to form a breakaway Christian state.

-Partners-

RNZI reports defence lawyer Ravindra Singh said the 15 accused continued to maintain their innocence.

“As far as they are concerned they have not committed a crime. They continue to believe that they have the right to champion and advocate for the rights of indigenous people, the rights of indigenous land and indigenous issues,” he said. “And that is exactly what they did and there is no shame in that.

Filing appeals
Ravindra-Singh said he would file appeals to the Court of Appeal from next week.

According to the Office of Director of Prosecutions, the following sentences were handed down:

– Ratu Epeli Niudamu: two year suspended sentence.

– Sailasa Wairoaroa Malani: 2 years in prison, six months of which is suspended.

– Sereima Adidave Rokodi: 2 years in prison, six months of which is suspended.

– Nanise Kasami Nagusuca: 3 years in prison, 12 months of which is suspended.

– Waisea Duailima: 3 years in prison, 12 months of which is suspended.

– Isikeli Waisega Kabakoro: 2 years in prison, six months of which is suspended.

– Laisiasa Mocevakaca: 2 years in prison, six months of which is suspended.

– Emosi Toga: 2 years in prison, six months of which is suspended.

– Waisake Racaca: 2 years in prison, six months of which is suspended.

– Samuela Ligabalavu: 2 years in prison, six months of which is suspended.

– Mikaele Gonerara: 2 years in prison, six months of which is suspended.

– Josefa Natau: 2 years in prison, six months of which is suspended.

– Sulueti Lotu Waqalala: 2 years in prison, six months of which is suspended.

– Ulaiyasi Rabua Tuivomo: 2 years in prison, four months of which is suspended.

– Apolosi Qalilawa: 18 months of prison, 6 months of which is suspended.

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