1 Jun 2009

Airport protestors in New Caledonia to appear in court this week

6:25 am on 1 June 2009

The leader of New Caledonia's mainly Kanak USTKE union, Gerard Jodar, has been held in custody over the weekend and is due to appear in court tomorrow over last Thursday's clashes at Noumea's domestic airport.

Mr Jodar was among about 30 unionists who were arrested after battling police first outside the terminal and then on the tarmac where USTKE members entered two parked ATR aircraft of the domestic carrier Air Caledonie.

Seven of the unionists are to be tried, on charges including planting an explosive device on one of the planes.

Thursday's clash came amid a labour dispute which has continued with strike action on the island of Ouvea as the airline struggles to

normalise internal air traffic.

The unionists' lawyer says he would like more time to prepare his case, alleging also that they are being held in conditions that contravene the European Human Rights Convention.