UPDATE: Fiji AG goes after second paper

A SECOND Fijian newspaper is facing court action over its apology for publishing  a letter that criticised a decision of the High Court.

Fiji’s Daily Post and Fiji Times both ran a letter last month by someone claiming to be Vili Navukitu of Queensland, Australia, that criticised a High Court judgement – and the Justices involved – that found the 2006 bloodless coup lead by Frank Bainimarama was legal.

In response to government criticism, both newspapers ran an identical apology, headlined “We’re in Contempt”.

The October 5 apology, available here, was said to be “self-serving” with a “smart-alecky” headline by Fiji’s Solicitor-General, Christopher Pryde, The Times reported.

Fiji Times’ Australian publisher Rex Gardner and editor-in-chief Netani Rika will appear in a December 4 hearing after Fiji’s Attorney-General rejected a front page apology on the matter by the publication, which is owned by News Ltd and is a PANPA member.

The Post’s Australian executives – publisher Alan Hickling and editor Robert Wolfgramm – were notified yesterday the A-G was also pushing to imprison them and fine their paper.

Mr Wolfgramm told AAP he was prepared to accept whatever penalty was imposed.

“I will wear whatever has to be worn on this…This is the real world, so let things take their course,” he said.

“I would rather not go to jail, nobody wants to, but if that is what happens, it happens.”

Earlier this year, the Fiji Government deported the Fiji Times’ then general manager, Mr Evan Hannah. Mr Rika in September addressed the PANPA08 conference on the topic of freedom of the press and shared with his audience the pressures newspapers continue to endure in Fiji.

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