OFC general secretary pleads guilty to contempt
The general secretary of Oceania Football Confederation, Tai Nicholas, has pleaded guilty to the charge of contempt of court in the High Court today for scurrilous comments made in November 2011 that there is no judiciary in Fiji.
The Attorney-General, acting in the public interest, brought court proceedings against Nicholas, claiming that Nicholas' comments amounted to contempt of court, as they scandalised the court and posed the risk of undermining public confidence in the independence and impartiality of the Fijian judiciary and the administration of justice in Fiji.
Nicholas' lawyer appeared befor Justice Calanchini in the High Court and entered a plea of guilty today. The High Court has formally entered Nicholas' plea and found him guilty of contempt of court.
Nicholas has been given 28 days to file necessary documents in support of his plea in mitigation. The matter will be called before the High Court on August 24, 2012.
A related proceeding for contempt of court against the Fiji Times Limited and its editor and publisher, for publishing Nicholas' statements in The Fiji Times without exercising editorial responsibility, was heard in the High Court on Monday. A ruling is pending.
In response to Nicholas' guilty plea this morning, the Attorney-General said:
"Fiji has a fully operational, independent, impartial and transparent judiciary. It is the duty of the Attorney-General to guarantee that all appropriate measures are taken to ensure that the authority and independence of the judiciary is not undermined in any way, including by any baseless comments."
"We have also seen some individuals and groups who have sought to undermine the judiciary and administration of justice for their own political and/or personal agendas. We will be equally vigilant with such persons and groups, both local and foreign."