Retrial ordered in Bulitavu, Karunaratne sedition case

Former Fiji United Freedom Party leader Jagath Karunaratne and former SODELPA whip Mosese Bulitavu in court on Friday, August 24, 2018. Picture: JESSICA SAVIKE

SUVA High Court judge Justice Vinsent Perera has ordered a re-trial in the case of former SODELPA parliamentarian Mosese Bulitavu and Fiji United Freedom Party President Jagath Karunaratne who had appealed against their conviction and sentence.

Mr Bulitavu had been sentenced by Suva Magistrate Deepika Prakash to two years, five months and 13 days imprisonment; and Mr Karunaratne was sentenced to two years, five months and 16 days imprisonment after being found guilty of sedition.

Jagath Karunaratne in court today. Picture: JESSICA SAVIKE

Former MP Mosese Bulitavu in court today. Picture: JESSICA SAVIKE

It is alleged the two were involved in spray painting words in different places between Nausori and Suva with the seditious intention of bringing into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the government of Fiji.

It is alleged they did this with others between the August 1-27, 2011.

Justice Perera said there was a substantial miscarriage of justice.

He said the Magistrate breached or did not follow the fundamental legal principles.

He said it was clear the words were not spray painted by Mr Karunaratne and Mr Bulitavu, adding the offence was committed by more than one person.

Justice Perera noted the citings of case laws by Magistrate Prakash, saying she did not follow it; and that it was clear that she had not made a finding of the alleged act.

He has set aside the conviction and has allowed the appeal.

Mr Bulitavu and Mr Karunaratne have been released on bail.

The matter has been adjourned to September 24 and will be called before Chief Magistrate Usaia Ratuvili.

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