27 May 2004

Cooks Citizens Group sets up trust for defendants in libel case

4:50 pm on 27 May 2004

The Concerned Citizens Group in the Cook Islands has set up a trust to receive funds from anyone wanting to help those being sued by the prime minister and his special advisor Norman George.

The group of 10 respondents is being sued 3.4 million US dollars for defamation over comments made in relation to New Zealand criminal Mark Lyon being allowed residency in the Cook Islands.

They raised serious objection to George's legal association with Lyon while maintaining a role as chief advisor to Prime Minister Dr Robert Woonton.

One of the board members for the Voice of the People Trust Account, Elizabeth Ponga, says there is a lot of public sympathy for those being sued.

She says the trust is to help defend the democratic rights to question and expose corruption in government.

"We are exercising freedom of speech because we live by the democratic principles of the system of government that is in our country and we are exercising that right, And by doing so we are being taken to court. What kind of government are we now looking at?"

Elizabeth Ponga