10 November 2009

Pressure to drop court case against Fiji Church leaders

At a court hearing today, a lawyer representing nine Fijian Church leaders appealed for the case against them to be dropped.

The leaders of the Fijian Methodist Church, including the Church's President, General Secretary, Accountant and Trust Secretary, have pleaded not guilty to charges of breaching Public Emergency Regulations. Their solicitor met today with the Director of Public Prosecutions, opposing counsel and magistrate to argue that there is no case to be answered.

Tomorrow afternoon, Revd David Gamble, President of the British Methodist Conference and Dr Richard Vautrey, Vice President of the Conference, will meet with Meg Munn MP and Chris Bryant MP, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State.

David said; "We are very concerned for our sister Church in Fiji. This situation threatens to consume so much of their time, energy and finance. Strict bail conditions have robbed the Church of its leaders and we hope to seek a way forward that will enable the Church to continue to worship and serve its communities."

The Fijian Church leaders are appealing against their bail conditions, which prohibit them from public speaking, preaching or taking part in church meetings.

The Church represents around a third of Fiji's population and has challenged Fiji's military government, which is lead by Commodore Bainimarama. Earlier in the year the Church was forced to cancel its annual Conference and choir festivals.

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