26 Jun 2014

Kiribati Govt says squatter numbers exaggerated

7:47 pm on 26 June 2014

The secretary of the Kiribati Ministry of Line and Phoenix Islands Development says the reported arrest of 300 people on Kiritimati Island is exaggerated.

Wiriki Tooma says the number was closer to 100 people, and they were warned that they were on government land.

The Office of the People's Lawyer in Kiribati had earlier condemned what the Kiribati Independent reported as a police raid, where squatters were arrested and charged.

The Office told the newspaper that children were also arrested.

But the Kiribati Director of Lands, Tebutonga Ereata, says the squatters ignored numerous warnings to vacate the land, which is not covered by their subleases with the government.

He says the police were ordered only to arrest the heads of households and not any children.