27 Jun 2003

Fiji treason trial sentences expected today

10:19 am on 27 June 2003

Fiji treason convicts, Timoci Silatolu and Josefa Nata, will be sentenced today.

This follows final mitigation by their lawyers and Nata's apology to the people of Fiji for his role in the coup.

nata said his father had refused to speak to him after the coup and had died while he was in custody.

Radio Fiji reports that Nata's lawyer, Anil Singh, told the court the country is healing and any sentence should not be unduly harsh.

Mr Singh said race was a factor in the events and this should be taken into account as the country is now in a bouyant mood ahead of the South Pacific Games and a harsh sentence would be inappropriate.

Silatolu's lawyer, Sevuloni Valenitabua, asked Justice Andrew Wilson that if his client was sentenced to death, it should not be carried out immediately.

Mr Valenitabua said the Appeals Act states that any sentence of death must allow for the 30 day appeals period to lapse.

He asked the court to take into account the fact that Silatolu had already been in custody for three years and had undergone tremendous rehabilitation under the prison fellowship programme.