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APIA, Samoa (September 19, 2000 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)---Some 200 Falealupo residents ordered by the Lands and Titles Court to leave the village are likely to appeal the court ruling.

Judge Maugatai Esau ordered the families of the 54 jailed Bible Study group members to leave within a month starting from the day the ruling was delivered. The decision was handed down at the Tuasivi Lands and Titles Court.

(See: Samoa Court Orders Bible Study Group To Leave Village)

However, a member of the evicted group, Peni Pouli, told the Samoa Observer that the majority of the group was still in Savai‘i and no decision has been made on whether the appeal would go ahead.

Peni said: "No firm decision has been reached. It is highly likely the group will appeal the case."

He said the Bible Study would hold a meeting to consider their next move.

He told the Samoa Observer that some Falealupo matai involved in the Bible Study are refusing to obey the court ruling.

"They (matai) feel their rights as matai and residents of Falealupo are not being respected let alone considered by the Court," he said. As a result, the group feels the next safest move for them would be to appeal.

The group feels that the Court ruling was based on the 1990 Village Fono Act, which gives the village matai absolute control of village affairs. Over 10 Falealupo matai are members of the Bible Study group.

According to informed reports, the group has been the subject of much criticism from other village residents. The members said legal advice has been obtained.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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