24 Oct 2006

Developer on a Samoa island denies residents wrongly evicted

7:35 pm on 24 October 2006

The leasing by the Samoan government of an island near Apia has sparked a row over landownership.

A New Zealand developer has plans to develop tourist accommodation on Taumesina Island.

Last week, one man was arrested and a fale belonging to him and his brother was demolished by police, who say the men were trespassing.

Eti Sapolu says he has been living on Taumesina island for over thirty years and had no warning that he and his brother were to leave and that his fale was to be demolished.

But Trevor Stevenson, the lawyer representing the developer, says Mr Sapolu and, especially his brother, were never permanent residents on the island:

"This chap has never been on the land, but his brother has sporadically, so its just an nonsense."