12 Jul 2004

Samoa Government backed by court over Salelologa compensation deal

3:56 pm on 12 July 2004

Samoa's Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the government that an agreement granting compensation to Salelologa village for land it took over, is binding.

The amount of 1 point five million U.S. dollars was agreed to in 2002 after meetings between Salelologa chiefs and government representatives, including the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele.

However, Salelologa has seven sub-villages, one of which refused to sign and later lodged an objection, joined by two other sub-villages, saying compensation should be at least 15 million dollars.

They arrived at this figure after valuations showed that to be the market value of the land.

But, the court noted that the government met representatives of all the seven sub-villages and that several part payments it made had been accepted by the village.

The court says in those circumstances, it was difficult to accept the sub-villages contention that the chiefs had no authority to accept the money or that it was without village authorisation.

The judgement says the disagreement over the settlement is not with the government but amongst the chiefs and orators of Salelologa.

The government wants the 960 hectares of land for a township to be built inland of Salelologa Wharf.