20 Apr 2004

Group from Fiji's Rabi Island appear in court after council protest

3:24 pm on 20 April 2004

A group of Fiji's Rabi Islanders, who are accused of causing a disturbance at their local council office last week have appeared in Labasa's magistrates court.

The seven, who include a 76 year old woman, have been charged with unlawful assembly, forcible entry and unlawful use of a motor vehicle in their protest against the Rabi island Council and its alleged misuse of public funds.

They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Rabi Islanders are people from Banaba Island in Kiribati, who wee resettled in Fiji in colonial times when their island became uninhabitable because of phosphate mining.

The once wealthy islanders have become impoverished because of poor financial management and have been facing money problems for several years.