Loggers take over Catholic land

The Catholic Church in Rabaul in Papua New Guinea says a Malaysian logger has fraudulently obtained access to some of its land.

The church has gone to court to reclaim its ownership of the land.

It says the logger illegally acquired the land, at Putput in East New Britain.

But the church says it has owned the land since 1951. It says the locals had no right to sell.

Rabaul Archbishop Franceso Panfilo says the loggers arrived out of the blue last November. They set up a logging camp.

Court sides with church over land

The church went to court and it granted a restraining order against logging.

Yet the loggers have since returned and taken over about 8 hectares to set up a camp again.

This time, the Malaysian logger says it bought the land from two locals.

On part of the land there is a wharf. The Archbishop says the logging company would look to send its logs out from the wharf.

Archbishopo Panfilo says, “We have the document that it was bought in 1951 but apparently we cannot find the title.”

He says it’s held by Papua New Guinea Land Department.

The archbishop says in previous decisions, the Land Department has declared the church as the protector of the land.

The land involved covers nearly 17,000 hectares.

A court hearing starts this week in East New Britain to try to resolve the dispute.

The church had intended to pass ownership of the land back to 3 tribes who were the original owners.

The archbishop says the church was not going to charge the tribes any money for the land.

Sources:

Radio NZ International

Radio NZ International

Image: Radio NZ

News category: Asia Pacific.

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