23 Jan 2008

New Caledonia demonstration in support of jailed unionists

11:14 am on 23 January 2008

An estimated 500 people have held a demonstration outside New Caledonia's main court house in support of ten members of the USTKE union who were arrested during last week's violent clashes in Noumea.

The ten were to be sentenced for joining an armed mob after being ordered to disperse and of assaulting members of the security forces as well as damaging public property.

The clashes, which left more than 20 people injured, erupted after police tried to end the occupation of land next to a bus depot at the centre of an industrial dispute.

The court has deferred the case until February the 22nd after the defence asked for more time to prepare its files.

The ten accused have been remanded, with the defence saying there should be the presumption of innocence and the men should not be kept in jail just to satisfy public opinion and political interests.