Fiji bosses wait for new year contempt ruling

THE High Court Judge at the centre of the Fiji Times contempt of court case decided today he will wait until January to deliver a ruling.

The newspaper’s publisher, Rex Gardner, and editor-in-chief, Netani Rika, are facing jail sentences and will now be forced to wait until the new year to learn their fates after Justice Thomas Hickie told a hearing today he needs time to make an informed decision, reports said.

The Fijian Attorney-General’s office is seeking jail terms for the two media men, in addition to a $1 million fine for the Times, after it published a contemptuous letter.

The paper issued a front page apology after running a letter that was overly critical of a court decision that ruled the Government’s military takeover to be legal.

The lawyer representing the Times, Richard Naidu, told the hearing today the penalties submitted were excessive because the breach was at the lower end of the scale. The paper had unintentionally published a contemptuous letter, and had since apologised and taken actions to prevent a repetition of the processing error, he said.

Solicitor General Christopher Pryde told the court that the sentence sought by the State is required to deter other media organisations from attacking the judiciary, reports said.

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