AG with final say

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Decision on alleged illegal logging operation on Crown land

By Gary Hatigeva

THE Attorney General and his office has been tasked to look into the case of what was reported on the alleged illegal logging operation in the Komaridi land under parcel number 191 0602 at Mbetilonga, Guadalcanal.

Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela revealed this when questioned by the Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga, Matthew Wale during a Question and Answer (Q&A) session, which was based on the status of an investigation the Prime Minister had ordered after the issue was reported in the media.

Prime Minister Hou said an investigation team from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) headed by the Chief of Staff, had started investigating the matter and is still ongoing.

But, he confirmed that following weeks of thorough investigation by the PMO team, a preliminary report on the matter was compiled and submitted to his office.

Hou said the report was later forwarded to the Attorney General whom he (PM) said was asked to determine the nature of the reported matter and see if the allegations are in breach of specific laws governing such operations.

He said the report had in fact highlighted that there are two parcels of land involved in the matter and not just one as it is understood.

“The preliminary findings from the investigation team is that the Fixed Term Estate (FTE) Title is with the government, and there are actually two places (parcels), one of which is a Queen Elizabeth Park site and I think it’s kind of a little bit downstream and the other is the Komaridi land,” Hou explained when also questioned on the status of ownership over the lands.

On both parcels, the Prime Minister explained that based on the summary report, the FTE of the Queen Elizabeth Park land is confirmed to be with the government however, with the Komaridi, it is not so clear, but the team unsurely confirmed that its FTE is also with the government.

He added that the report had also highlighted other issues regarding the status of the land and the logging operation itself.

“The Attorney General has been asked to look into this report and to make an assessment as to whether there are civil liabilities or criminal liabilities into this matter. The advice from the AG will be very important

“It is of course vital for this issue and from there, we can know what to be done next in terms of whether any criminal activities have actually taken place and what exactly those criminal activities are. A formal complaint might be launched where police will be involved and perhaps other parties later on,” the Prime Minister explained.

However, insiders revealed that since receiving the report from the Prime Minister’s office, the Attorney General has yet to make any advices for the government to make any decisions into the matter.

Island Sun understands that the preliminary report was forwarded to the office of the Attorney General on March 26, 2018.

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