A Tanna chief was arrested with his men and charged with criminal trespass and damage to property on Wednesday this week. The arrest was made when police went to Imatasika Mine village, White Sands and arrested Chief Mani Kali from Imatasika Mine and his men after they allegedly chopped down more than 30 coconut trees belonging to another family.
Sources in the village who wanted to remain anonymous informed Daily post that police arrested Mr Kali and several men in the community and brought them to Isangel Police Station for questioning.
They said chief Kali and his men have been charged and will appear in court at the end of this month.
People near the village alleged that the actions were made after a Court of Appeal decision over a customary name which was handed down in the chief’s favour.
They said the two parties have been disputing the customary names they shared together and fighting over land for years. Furthermore, many custom meetings have been held to resolve the issue without success.
Both parties then pursued a custom name — ‘Numanian’. Chief Kali’s side won the appeal after the other party failed to make an application to appeal out of time.
Sources said chief Kali and his men then started chopping down trees and coconut trees inside the area belonging to the other party, claiming they won the court case.
Police have confirmed that chief Kali also has an outstanding assault case.
The chief and his men have been released on bail, pending investigations but were strictly told not to interfere with the prosecution witnesses.