23 Oct 2007

Police set to end Samoa land occupation

1:49 pm on 23 October 2007

Villagers in Samoa who have occupied land west of the capital, Apia, are due to be forcibly removed by the police today.

The Satapuala villagers are demanding the return of a block of land near Faleolo International Airport which is under the control of the Samoa Trust Estates Corporation, saying it was taken from their ancestors during German rule.

They have reportedly put up four huts and slashed and burnt undergrowth.

Our correspondent in Samoa, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, says the Corporation last week gave them five days to leave, and the deadline is today.

"But I don't think the police will immediately execute their power. As you'll know we have our own way of dealing with matters of this kind. We need to sit down and talk with the village matais and try to seek a very peaceful way to remove these people and their belongings from the land."

Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia says he understands the villagers have engaged a lawyer.