25 Aug 2009

New Caledonia awaits USTKE's Jodar appeal court case

4:49 am on 25 August 2009

A New Caledonian court will today hear the appeal of the leader of the USTKE union, Gerard Jodar, who has been in jail since June for his role in the riots at Noumea's domestic airport in May.

The court sitting comes after a weekend rally by more than 1,000 people in Noumea calling for the release of all unionist imprisoned over the May clashes.

Walter Zweifel reports.

"Jodar and his associates are serving a one-year jail term but hope to get their sentence commuted. Their jailing prompted widespread unrest in late July and early August, which has in turn led to more people being imprisoned for the destruction they caused in the skirmishes with riot police. The USTKE campaign was denounced in the biggest rally the territory has seen in decades only to be followed by a counter march decrying alleged police brutality. There are fears that an unsuccessful appeal hearing could trigger more of the unrest that has beset the capital area in recent weeks."