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Words in the News
Monday 18 February 2002
Vocabulary from the news. Listen to and read the report then find explanations of difficult words below.

  George Speight
Speight sentence commuted
Summary: Fiji coup leader George Speight has had his death penalty for treason commuted to life in prison by the country’s president, Ratu Josefa Il Ilo. This report from Phil Mercer.
The News Listen  
  George Speight has been spared death by hanging and is now starting a life sentence in jail. It’s been a day of high drama in Fiji: it started with Speight walking confidently into court at the start of his trial for treason. He immediately pleaded guilty, but broke down and wept as the presiding judge, Justice Michael Scott, donned a ceremonial black cap to order his execution by hanging.

Within hours the case was being reviewed by Fiji’s mercy commission, headed by the attorney-general, which advises the president on issues of clemency. The government said last week it would introduce legislation to take the death penalty off the statute books and replace it with life in prison

It’s two years since Speight’s armed gang of nationalists stormed parliament. The target of the uprising was Mahendra Chaudhry, Fiji’s first ethnic Indian prime minister. He was accused by Speight of dismantling the rights of the indigenous majority at the expense of the Indo-Fijian minority.

Speight may appeal the life sentence. The weeping figure with his head bowed as the earlier death sentence was passed, stood in stark contrast to the confident and charismatic man who brought down democracy in May 2000.

Phil Mercer, BBC News, Brisbane

The Words Listen
if someone is spared, they are not punished

the crime of betraying your country

  pleaded guilty
stated in court that he had committed a crime

put on

kind treatment from a person who has the authority to punish

  statute books
the collection of laws that are in force in a particular country

charged with committing a crime

to request someone in authority to change a decision

lowered, looking at the ground

able to influence and inspire people by their personal qualities

  Read more about this story  

Other Words in the News archives


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