26 Mar 2003

Sentencing delayed of Fiji coup convicts Nata and Silatolu

7:12 am on 26 March 2003

The sentencing of Fiji coup convicts, Josefa Nata and Timoci Silatolu, has been delayed, possibly until June.

Justice Andrew Wilson convicted the two men of treason last Friday.

He told the Suva High Court yesterday he would have sentenced Nata and Silatolu to death if parliament had not made amendments to the law last year abolishing death for treason.

Fiji TV quotes Justice Wilson as saying he wants to know if the legislative amendment is valid.

The government brought in the law after the coup front man George Speight pleaded guilty to treason and was sentenced to death which was immediately commuted to life imprisonment.

Justice Wilson has questioned what the sentence for Nata and Silatolu should be when for the same crime death was imposed on Speight.

He has called a number of witnesses to clarify the constitutional issues arising out of the legislative amendment.

The sentencing could be delayed until the Supreme Court rules on the validity of the law abolishing the death penalty which may not be until June.