11 May 2005

Kanak leader hints court treated him leniently over New Caledonia roadblock

8:14 pm on 11 May 2005

A Kanak leader in New Caledonia suggests authorities are willing to endorse his efforts to make sure a new mining project meets environmental standards.

Raphael Mapou and Andre Vama were arrested in February for blocking access to the Goro Nickel plant, and were sentenced to a suspended fine of about 1,000 US dollars.

Outside a packed courthouse, Mapou described the court decision as a de facto endorsement of his group's struggle to ensure future projects meet environmental standards.

Mapou said he thought public authorities ought to take a hint from the ruling.

The tribunal in Noumea also threw out a request from Goro Nickel for damages as a result of the roadblock.

Goro is scheduled for completion in September 2007.