22 Jan 2009

Fiji Times given hefty fine over controversial letter

6:47 pm on 22 January 2009

Fiji's oldest newspaper, the Fiji Times, has been fined 54,000 US dollars by the High Court over its publication of a contemptuous letter that criticised the court's validation of the 2006 military coup.

The Fijilive website reports that the publisher of the Fiji Times, Rex Gardener, and the editor in chief Netani Rika, have also been handed suspended jail sentences.

Rika is sentenced to three months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Gardener has been discharged on the condition that he enters into a bond without surety and be of good behaviour for a period of 12 months as from today.

The Fiji Times had admitted guilt and published admissions of contempt of court for publishing a letter to the editor from a person said to be residing in Australia.

However, the interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum was not satisfied with the apologies and urged the court to impose hefty penalties.

A similar lawsuit against the Daily Post newspaper, which also published the letter, will be heard in April.