21 Jan 2008

New Caledonia rioters to appear in court tomorrow

11:01 am on 21 January 2008

A court in New Caledonia is scheduled to sentence 13 men tomorrow for their role in last week's clashes with police.

The 13 were among 45 people arrested in Noumea during Thursday's violence which left nine policemen and more than 10 union supporters injured as police used tear gas and rubber bullets.

The police action was aimed at clearing striking workers of the USTKE union from a plot of land owned by the southern province and next to a bus company locked in an industrial dispute.

The 13 are accused of joining an armed mob after being ordered to disperse and of assaulting members of the security forces as well as damaging public property.

The Noumea clashes saw police vehicles set on fire and buses vandalised.

USTKE supporters protested territory-wide in support of their Nouema colleagues last week and according to local press reports a plane was prevented from landing on the island of Ouvea.