14 Apr 2005

New Caledonia judge reserves decision in case of Kanak-led roadblock

8:40 am on 14 April 2005

A judge in New Caledonia has reserved his decision in the case of two prominent Kanak leaders charged over the blockade of a nickel mining site in the south of the territory.

The newspaper, Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes, reports Raphael Mapou and Andre Vama were arrested in February for blocking access to the Goro Nickel plant, burning fuel and 'borrowing' several bulldozers.

Mr Mapou says he wants fresh mining projects in New Caledonia not to harm the environment in the way previous projects have done.

Mr Mapou told the court yesterday a culture of the use of force is omnipresent in the territory, and that the Rheebu Nuu committee decided that direct action was the only course to take in its campaign for an environmental impact assessment of the plant.

But the president of the tribunal told the court Mr Mapou and Mr Vama had other means of making themselves heard.

The judge is expected to make a decision on the case on the 10th of May.