Fiji’s attorney general has demanded jail for the Methodist minister found in contempt of court for quoting a Law Society Charity report whose contents were first revealed in the Gazette.
Counsel for the attorney, Ropate Green, sought a minimum sentence of six months for Reverend Akuila Yabaki, and a fine for the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum, a group which Yabaki heads, of not less than $54,000. The forum’s newsletter, Tutaka, had referred to the charity report’s critical comments on the impartiality of Fiji’s judiciary.
Yabaki and the forum denied contempt throughout the proceedings, a point that Green submitted should count against them when sentence was passed, despite the offer of an apology made since the contempt finding at the start of May. ‘Their regret following conviction is highly questionable,’ Green said.
Judge William Calanchini, presiding, previously said the report’s contents included ‘contemptuous words’.
The report Fiji: The Rule of Law Lost, was written by charity chair Nigel Dodds, following a covert research trip to Fiji in November 2011. A previous International Bar Association delegation had been refused entry to the country.
Fiji, ruled by an ‘interim’ prime minister since a 2006 coup, is currently suspended from the Commonwealth.