Pressure to drop court case against Fiji Church leaders

At a court hearing today, a lawyer representing nine FijianChurch leaders appealed for the case against them to bedropped.

The leaders of the Fijian Methodist Church, including the Church'sPresident, General Secretary, Accountant and Trust Secretary, havepleaded not guilty to charges of breaching Public EmergencyRegulations. Their solicitor met today with the Director of PublicProsecutions, opposing counsel and magistrate to argue that thereis no case to be answered.

Tomorrow afternoon, Revd David Gamble, President of the BritishMethodist Conference and Dr Richard Vautrey, Vice President of theConference, will meet with Meg Munn MP and Chris Bryant MP, Foreignand Commonwealth Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary ofState.

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

The Fijian Church leaders are appealing against their bailconditions, which prohibit them from public speaking, preaching ortaking part in church meetings.

The Church represents around a third of Fiji's population and haschallenged Fiji's military government, which is lead by CommodoreBainimarama. Earlier in the year the Church was forced to cancelits annual Conference and choir festivals.