17 Sep 2020

Freesoul seeks dismissal of environment reports in Fiji court

5:38 pm on 17 September 2020

A real estate developer accused of violating Fiji's laws when it began construction work on a resort on Malolo Island in 2018 has applied to the court to exclude reports by the Ministry of Environment.

Solevu Village on Malolo

Solevu Village on Malolo Photo: Supplied

Freesoul Limited has been charged with one count of undertaking unauthorised development and failure to comply with a prohibition notice.

The State alleged Freesoul carried out development on land at Wacia without an approved Environment Impact Assessment report.

In the Suva Magistrates Court this week, Freesoul made a submission to exclude the reports by the ministry's officers because the company claims they were not appointed as environment inspectors.

Earlier, Director of Environment Sandeep Singh had told the court the reports were compiled by the officers but they were not environment inspectors.

The prosecution will file a response and the court is expected to make a ruling on 16 October on whether to exclude the ministry's report in the trial against Freesoul which begins on 17 November.

If convicted, the company directors face fines of up to $US345,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both.

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