23 Jan 2003

Fiji judge confirms that Nata and Silatolu to stand jury trial on treason charge

6:06 pm on 23 January 2003

The Fiji high court judge presiding over the treason trial of Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu has thrown out submissions by their lawyers who claimed that their clients do not have a case to answer.

Silatolu's lawyer, Sevuloni Valenitabua, says the submission stated that they did not need to respond to the treason charges for the May 2000 coup because the state had insufficient evidence.

Nata's attorney, Alexander Wolfe, argued that the state's prosecution case was too flimsy and would not be able to sustain the treason charge.

But Mr Valenitabua says the judge did not accept their submission.

"The judge rejected that argument, and this morning gave a ruling that there was a case to answer, and he's relied on law to say that he does not have to give any reason for rejecting the submission of no case to answer, it's not a setback, it just makes the case the continue to the trial."

Sevuloni Valenitabua says the two defendants will now face a trial by a five-member jury.