19 Aug 2011

Vanuatu land dispute ends with 52 arrests and a child gifted as a peace offering

5:01 pm on 19 August 2011

A twenty-year land dispute between two feuding villages on Tanna island in Vanuatu has ended with a child being gifted as a peace offering, and police arresting 52 men.

Superintendent Vake Rakau says at the traditional reconciliation ceremony last week a nine year old Laketam boy was gifted to Lonpakel village as part of a truce.

Superintendant Rakau says despite the reconciliation, men from both villages were arrested in relation to offences committed last month.

The men have been charged with unlawful assembly, threat to kill, damage of property, and arson.

"With the police this reconciliation does not rule out the crime committed. For example the Mousa family burnt ten houses from Yarai's community. The Yarai community responded by burning just over ten."

Superintendant Rakau says the arrested men have been released on bail, and their next court appearance has yet to be announced.