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Logging company houses burnt over land dispute

By Assumpta Buchanan

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 31, 2012) - Eleven more men accused of burning down houses belonging to a logging company operating in South Malaita were bailed yesterday in the Honiara Magistrate's Court.

A total of 19 men have been arrested for allegedly setting fire to 14 houses belonging to the Samlimsan Company operating at Arai logging camp on January 16, this year.

Eight of the men have already been bailed on the first appearance two weeks ago as they were juveniles and students.

This alleged incident occurred as a result of a land dispute between two parties over the Arai land in which the logging company operated.

All operations at the company site have been halted due to an injunction (order) at the High Court when the alleged incident was said to have occurred.

The company is waiting for authorization from the High Court before they can start operating.

The accused, however at 12 midday of that particular day went and allegedly burnt down the houses.

Only three security officers who were told to look after the company houses were present at the site at that time.

A successful bail application was made by the men's lawyer, Donald Marahare of DNS & Partner lawyers despite objection for bail by the prosecution.

The men were bailed on SB$300 [US$40.50] cash surety each.

Principal Magistrate Stefan Metanomski adjourned the matter for a pre-trial-conference on February 10.

He then ordered disclosures to be provided in the meantime.

The police prosecution also told court that the matter will be transferred to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) next.

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