3 Jan 2003

77 villagers arrested for raiding cocoa plantations owned by Milne Bay Governor

4:55 pm on 3 January 2003

Papua New Guinea's Post Courier newspaper reports that police in New Ireland province have arrested 77 residents from Danu village for stealing and vandalism on a plantation owned by Milne Bay Governor, Tim Neville.

The villagers were arrested by a police riot squad after they moved into the plantation and began harvesting the cocoa crop.

The plantation is one of the largest in the province and produces quality cocoa from its one thousand hectares.

A spokesman for the villagers said the invasion of the plantation was part of problems that had been going on in the area for more than ten years.

He said the arrests would only strengthen the villagers resolve to purchase the plantation.

All 77 pleaded guilty when they appeared in the Kavieng District Court on Wednesday and are due to be sentenced later today.