SAMOA COURT ORDERS RELEASE OF ALLEGED DEMONSTRATORS

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APIA, Samoa (July 22, 1998 - Radio Australia)---A Samoan court has ordered the release of five men arrested last month after a violent demonstration near the capital, Apia.

The five were among 33 people arrested in connection with the incident at a government-owned cattle farm.

The rioters set fire to property, threatened police and fired guns before stealing at least half the cattle kept on the Samoa Trust Estate Corporation property west of Apia.

Samoa's Chief Justice ordered release of the five men after their lawyer argued there was no reasonable cause to suspect the men had been involved in the disturbance.

The demonstrators say the incident is related to a long-running property dispute, but police say it was started by people involved in cattle-rustling and marijuana cultivation.

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