28 Feb 2017

Anti-loggers in Solomons to appear in court

8:23 pm on 28 February 2017

The police in Solomon Islands have arrested more than 60 people involved in a logging dispute in Western Province.

240414. Photo RNZ. Solomon Islands. Central Police Station. Honiara, police,

Photo: RNZ

They are the first of a large group of men who participated in an anti-logging protest at Vasara logging camp and will appear before the magistrates court in the provincial capital Gizo tomorrow.

The Solomon Islands Police Commissioner, Mathew Varley said those arrested had gone armed with basic weapons to the camp belonging to Oceanic Trading Ltd.

They demanded that the foreign logging firm leave the area within seven days.

Commissioner Varley says two camp security guards were injured in the initial disturbance during which some logging equipment was also stolen and damaged.

He says police had been in Rendova for a week trying to seek a peaceful resolution to the dispute but were forced to make the arrests on Monday.

"In the early hours of the morning yesterday, a police operation was executed to arrest many of those responsible for the original incident, and also additional people who were involved in recent days in producing weapons," he said.

"Those people have been conveyed by police to Gizo Police station where they're currently being processed."

The Commissioner said the first batch of suspects would appear before the local magistrates on Wednesday.