A former opposition MP is one of two men who have been jailed for more than two years after being convicted of sedition in Fiji.
Former Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) MP Mosese Bulitavu and the president of the Fiji United Freedom Party Jagath Karunaratne were both sentenced to two years and five months’ jail.
Last month, the Magistrate’s Court found the pair had spray-painted anti-government graffiti in several public places in 2011.
Their lawyers argued the prosecution had failed to present any evidence that proved the men had written the messages.
But local media reports said the sentencing magistrate said there was evidence they were involved in planning the acts of graffiti.
The magistrate refused an application for bail to allow the two men to appeal their sentences and the pair were taken straight from court to jail.
Fiji Times sedition trial begins
The sentencing of the men came as another sedition trial involving senior staff from the Fiji Times newspaper got underway in the High Court in Suva.
Fiji Times publisher Hank Arts, editor Fred Wesley and the editor of the newspaper’s Indigenous language paper Anare Ravula have been charged with sedition over a letter published in 2016.
The letter, published in the Fiji Times’ Indigenous language paper Nai Lalakai, was written by Josaia Waqabaca and accused Muslims of invading foreign lands and killing, raping, and abusing women and children.
Mr Waqabaca has also been charged with sedition, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years jail.
Prosecutor Lee Burney opened the trial and said the words contained in the letter were “poisonous”.
All four men charged have pleaded not guilty and the trial is expected to continue for two weeks.
Human Rights Watch has labelled the charges as politically motivated and called for them to be dropped.