NEWS FROM NEW CALEDONIA AND FRENCH POLYNESIA

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Tuesday, July 20, 1999

PINA Nius Online

NEW CALEDONIA TO SEND US$ 100,000 COLLECTED FOR PNG TSUNAMI VICTIMS

NOUMEA, New Caledonia---Since a lethal tidal wave struck Aitape, Papua New Guinea last year killing more than 2,000 people, a local association in New Caledonia has collected 10 million French Pacific Francs (US$ 100,000) to be used for rehabilitation projects, the daily Newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The tidal wave struck the northeast coast of Papua New Guinea on July 17, 1998 and, at the time, the French army joined the Australian and New Zealand military in immediate relief operations.

New Caledonians sympathetic to the suffering formed the "Association Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée (APNG)" and began collecting donations to help survivors.

Immediately after the disaster, APNG sent three containers of food, medicine and clothes to the affected areas.

One year after the tidal wave, they are using the collected funds to help schools restock libraries and assist with the creation of a vocational school.

The disbursement of funds will be made through the French Embassy in PNG by Olivier Meric de Bellefon, Wewak's Rotary club President.

Meanwhile, the European Union announced last week it would commit US$ 500,000 to the rehabilitation of schools in the tsunami-stricken area.

AUSTRALIAN YOUTH MUSIC ORCHESTRA PERFORMS IN NEW CALEDONIA

NOUMEA, New Caledonia---Thirty-nine musicians from Australia's National Youth Orchestra performed in New Caledonia over the weekend, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles reports.

The young musicians were conducted by Andrzej Grabiec and hosted by New Caledonia's Territorial Music School as part of an exchange program.

AFRICAN CLAIRVOYANT JAILED FOR EXTORTING OVER US$ 20,000

PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia---"Professor " Malick Drame, an African self-styled clairvoyant residing in Pape‘ete, was placed in custody Friday as a result of complaints filed against him, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles de Tahiti reports.

The court heard that Drame had arrived in the French territory about three months ago and had started a successful "consultant" business specializing in love affairs and fortune telling.

One client trusted Drame enough to pay him 260,000 French Pacific Francs (US$ 2,600) to bring his fiancé back and make her fall madly in love with him.

When this failed, the unnamed client decided to stop any further dealings with the African.

But Drame then convinced him that the frustrated lover had more than one problem: if nothing was being done quickly, his whole professional life would collapse, and so would his health.

The "Professor" was paid 2.1 million CFP (US$ 21,000) for a comprehensive "protection" treatment, involving a trip to Africa, where the cure could be found with fellow sorcerers, he said.

After a few days, the client, finally realizing he had been conned, came back to Drame and asked for a refund.

The victim then filed a court case against Drame.

The fortuneteller was arrested and admitted he had spent most of the money "for personal use."

At a preliminary hearing in Papeete, the court ruled he should be remanded in custody pending further hearings, Les Nouvelles reports.

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