13 Mar 2006

Lawyer says Samoa land case not an election ploy

4:56 pm on 13 March 2006

A New Zealand based Samoan lawyer has hit out against claims that the timing for a land claim case by Siumu district chiefs in Samoa is a political ploy.

Olinda Woodroffe, who is representing the chiefs, says the 2,000 acres of prime land given to colonial powers a century ago is now illegally in the hands of the Samoan government.

Ms Woodroffe says back then, there was legislation in place to prevent landgrabs and that customary land could not be sold by an individual.

She says the Siumu land was sold by an individual in return for guns rather than for a monetary sum.

And she says claims by the MP for Siumu, who has said the land claim is politically motivated, is incorrect.

"No it's got nothing to do with the election. Untimely circumstances on my part at the end of last year meant that I couldn't go back to file the claim at the end of last year as promised. I did let the district know and my first available time once I was given the clearance medically to travel, that was when I filed the claim and it had nothing to do with politics."

Olinda Woodroffe says the Samoan government was served papers regarding the case on February 22.