20 Dec 2006

Samoa Justice Minister in logging row

10:34 am on 20 December 2006

Samoa's Justice Minister, Unasa Mesi, has been accused of contempt of Court for ignoring a Land and Titles Court order to stop logging at Lealatele on Savai'i.

The Samoa Observer reports that an unsuccessful Samoa Party candidate in the March elections, Sala Toiaivao Lauano has claimed that Unasa is ignoring an order by the Land and Titles Court to stop logging trees on land that belongs to Sala's family.

Sala says Police and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment have allowed the logging to continue because they are afraid of the cabinet minister.

He accuses Unasa of abusing his power as Minister of Justice to continue the logging.

The Justice Minister has denied Sala's allegations.

He said the land where he's logging belongs to the village of Samalaeulu which has given him permission to cut the trees.

According to the Observer, the Lands and Titles Court has ordered

Unasa and Blue Bird Lumber Ltd. to cease logging until the ownership of the land is resolved.