SOLOMONS POLICE ARREST JOURNALISTS FILMING DOLPHIN TRADE

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (ABC News Online, July 21) - Solomon Islands police arrested and briefly detained an Australian journalist and photographer, and allegedly abused other media filming the arrival of a cargo jet being used to export live dolphins.

There have been bizarre scenes in the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara, with a group trying to export a number of dolphins.

A large Brazilian air freighter arrived to transport the mammals, possibly to Mexico.

Police had instituted a massive security cordon around the international terminal and warned journalists' cameras would be confiscated if they tried to film.

A Brazilian DC-10 air freighter touched down just minutes before an Australian air force Hercules carrying a forward party for the regional law-and-order intervention force.

It is not known how many dolphins are to be exported but their final destination is believed to be Mexico.

Last week, Australia's Environment Minister called on Mexico to block the importation of the mammals, a call that has been rejected by the Mexican Government.

Some police at Henderson Airport were very aggressive in trying to keep the journalists away. A freelance television team from New Zealand was chased and the cameraman was kicked.

One of the Solomon Islanders involved in the export of the dolphins, Robert Satu, from the Malaitan settlement known as the Fishing Village, exchanged heated words with the media.

"I'm Robert Satu, the chief of Fishing Village. No you taking photo and sending away," he said.

One of the journalists replied: "Correct, that's our job."

"No, no, no, no! That's why people bring the wrong picture about Solomon Islands," Satu said.

The journalist asked: "How many dolphins are you sending today?"

"Shut up!" Satu replied.

A journalist and photographer from the Sydney Morning Herald were detained and taken to the police station in Honiara but senior police apologized to them and let them go.

July 22, 2003

ABC News Online: http://abc.net.au/news/ 

 

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