LANDOWNERS CAN SUE OK TEDI LOCALLY: CHIEF JUSTICE SIR ARNOLD

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 30, 2002 - Post-Courier)---Chief Justice Sir Arnold Amet yesterday ruled the courts here had jurisdiction to hear any Ok Tedi landowner issue.

It was a ruling that went directly the opposite of what was stated and agreed to by parties in the Ok Tedi Settlement Agreement dated June 7, 1996.

The agreement stated that any Ok Tedi landowner issues could only be heard, determined or settled by the Victorian Supreme Court in Australia.

Sir Arnold said most parties involved and lawyers were based in Papua New Guinea, and therefore there was jurisdiction for the PNG courts to hear the matters here.

The parties concerned are now required to prepare and file all necessary documents at the Waigani National Court for the case to proceed.

Sir Arnold was ruling on a challenge to the Supreme Court by Opposition Leader Sir Michael Somare and South Fly MP Gabia Gagarimabu on the Ok Tedi 9th Supplementary Agreement.

The leaders claimed the agreement was unconstitutional in that it purported to deprive the people’s constitutional right to seek redress in PNG for any wrongdoing against them on the issues of environmental damages. This action prompted Ok Tedi Mining Limited to take court action to prevent lawyers from pursuing the matter in court, basing their grounds on the supplementary agreement.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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