2 Jun 2009

New Caledonia union leader free pending trial in two weeks

3:07 pm on 2 June 2009

The leader of New Caledonia's mainly Kanak USTKE union, Gerard Jodar, has been released from custody five days after being arrested amid clashes at Noumea's domestic airport.

Mr Jodar was among about 30 unionists who were detained 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.

The authorities had expected to have him tried today for his role in the violence.

But the court has given the accused, who include another five unionists, two weeks to prepare for the trial.

They have also been instructed not to be near Magenta airport.

The clashes followed a prolonged labour dispute between the union and Air Caledonie.