2 Aug 2006

Fiji landowners defy court order to end blockade

10:27 am on 2 August 2006

Indigenous Fijian landowners at Sorokoba, Ba, have defied a High Court order to lift a blockade of the sugar cane railway line they put in place three weeks ago.

Radio Legend reports that a bailiff sent to deliver the court order to the landowners was threatened with physical violence and chased away.

The Sugar Cane Growers Council lawyer, Shalen Krishna, says they had to go back to the High Court yesterday afternoon and obtain another order to get police to accompany the bailiff and assist in serving the document.

An earlier attempt to deliver the court order also failed when the landowners told the delegation that they should respect the decision to blockade the cane railway and leave.

The Lautoka High Court has summoned the landowners, the Native Land Trust Board and the Fiji Sugar Corporation to be present in court this afternoon for a hearing.

The landowners' spokesman, Samuela Kautoga, says their lawyer, Kitione Vuetaki, will file for a stay on the High Court ruling.

Meanwhile, Fiji TV reports that the landowners have filed their own complaint with police alleging that the Fiji Sugar Corporation trespassed on their land by continuing to use the railway after its lease expired in April.