20 Feb 2008

Lawyer representing village land claimants in Samoa says police intervention

9:59 am on 20 February 2008

The lawyer representing the Siumu village land claimants in Samoa who are blocking access to some land owners says police intervention could inflame the situation and lead to violence.

The land is the subject of a pending court case between the Siumu village and the government but some Siumu villagers want the land owners removed now.

The villagers are being told by the landowners to withdraw peacefully or they'll be prosecuted for trespassing.

But their lawyer, Leulua'aialii Olinda Woodroffe, says she's concerned police involvement could worsen the situation.

"Because it nearly happened last time. The villagers who were blocking the road were very angry and I was stopped several times en route to the village by young people on the road so if that scenario is happening the answer is yes, there is a possibility of bloodshed."

Leulua'aialii Olinda Woodroffe says the Siumu villagers are blocking access to the roads as an act of frustration at the government's tactics to delay having the matter heard in the Supreme Court