U.S. TIMBER FIRM SUES FIJI GOVERNMENT

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 2, 2000 – Pacific Media Watch/Fiji Times/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Timber Resource Management has sued the Fiji Islands government for $25 million (US$ 12.025 million) for (allegedly) defamatory statements made against it in a full-page (advertisement) published in the Fiji Sun on April 4, the Fiji Times reports.

TRM proceeded with legal action after the government refused to publish a full retraction and an apology for the allegations made in the (advertisement) titled "The Real Facts About the Mahogany Deal."

Concurrent action is also being pursued in United States courts.

The company has named six defendants -- the Minister for Information, the Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forests, the Attorney General, Fiji Sun editor Stan Ritova, publisher Tony Singh and proprietor Sandeep Patel.

In the writ filed yesterday, TRM lawyer Isireli Fa took the government to task over allegations his clients were not putting any money into the project.

The company had submitted to the government a proposal for the funding and development of the Fiji Hardwood Corporation.

The government had claimed "there were fundamental shortcomings in the TRM proposal that make it totally unacceptable to any right-thinking government."

TRM took out a three-page advertisement in the Fiji Times yesterday refuting allegations by the government in the (advertisement), including TRM's lack of any track record anywhere and that the company proposals carried very high risks for Fiji.

The company has also asked the courts to prevent the Government from publishing anything else that might be deemed as libelous against TRM.

Title -- 2692 FIJI: $25m lawsuit against Fiji Sun, government Date -- 2 May 2000 Byline – None Origin -- Pacific Media Watch Source -- Fiji Times, 2/5/00 Copyright – FT Status – Unabridged (c)1996-99 Copyright - All rights reserved.

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FIJI GOVERNMENT AND NEWSPAPER SUED BY U.S. TIMBER COMPANY

SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 2, 2000 – Radio Australia)---A United States timber company that failed in its bid to develop Fiji's mahogany plantations is suing the Fijian government and a local newspaper.

As Radio Australia Ofa Kaukimoce reports from Suva, Timber Resources Management (TRM) has filed documents in the High Court, naming as defendants two Fijian ministers and the proprietors and publishers of the Fiji Sun newspaper.

"Documents say the Fiji Sun published defamatory statements made by the government through the information and agriculture ministers and attorney general against Timber Resources Management.

"The company claims the statement contained allegations which were false and malicious. The statements related to TRM's proposal to the government for the rights to acquire and harvest mahogany plantations in Fiji. It further claims the statements were understood to mean that its proposal was a sham.

"Through its lawyers, TRM sought a retraction and apology from the government.

"However, a week later nothing came forward and the company went ahead and filed legal papers.

"TRM is seeking 25 million Fijian dollars (US$ 12.025 million) in damages. It says concurrent action is also been sought in the U.S. court for similar damages.

"For Radio Australia News, I'm Ofa Kaukimoce

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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