By Tiffany Nonggorr
IT IS GOOD to see the issues concerning litigation around the Ramu nickel project being debated but I enter this discussion for the sole purpose of correcting the false information concerning both the existing plaintiffs and the parties who attempted to be joined to the now discontinued proceedings.
Mr ‘Dexter Bland’ uses a false name to defame me often on this website, to which I generally do not respond. But spreading incorrect information about the people I represent is another matter.
He alleges that instead of acceding to clients wishes I went in search of another landowner to be the face of rich international environmental purists.These are complete and utter lies.
The parties seeking to be joined as additional plaintiffs were Mr Louis Medaing and the Tong and Ongeg clans. They approached me at the Madang National Court on 7 September, after Mr Mellambo had pulled out the day before and after it was reported in the newspapers that I had been threatened.
Mr Medaing stated he and his clans wished to join the proceedings and asked me to represent them and gave me many documents to set out his position. I discussed the matter with the plaintiffs and, on 13 September, the existing plaintiffs filed a motion to join Mr Medaing and his clans.
That motion was to be heard on 15 September 2010 but was adjourned to 21 September on the grounds of short service. Last week I wrote to the Provincial Police Commander seeking a police escort for the plaintiffs to come from the Rai Coast to Madang as there had been numerous threats against them.
On Saturday 18 September we sent a boat to collect the plaintiffs, who I was in mobile phone contact with, and who were in hiding in the bush on the Rai Coast due to the numerous threats to force them to stop the proceedings. When the boat neared the coast it was ambushed by two other boats carrying men with guns and knives who then threatened the occupants of the boat and told them they could not get the plaintiffs and they must return to Madang. On their return to Madang, they contacted me and told me what happened and I rang the Provincial Police Commander who provided Task Force Police members to accompany three boats back to the Rai Coast to collect the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs came out of hiding and boarded the boats, and they arrived in Madang on Saturday night at about 7 pm. All this is in affidavit material that was filed in court.
The next day, Sunday 19 September, the plaintiffs attended a meeting, that went from 11 am to 2 pm, with elders from the Minderi area (near Basamuk) who had travelled to Madang to hear the plaintiffs’ position on the court case as they had heard rumours of the threats and did not know whether the plaintiffs would continue or not. The plaintiffs at the meeting told the elders that they were 100% going ahead with the court case which was to start on Tuesday. An affidavit by Terry Kunning, one of the elders present at the meeting, was filed in the court proceedings confirming this.
That was the last we heard from the plaintiffs until Tuesday morning at court, when a fax was sent from Stevens Lawyers in Port Moresby stating that they had instructions to represent the plaintiffs and the plaintiffs wished to discontinue. I had arrived in Madang only on Monday and had previously tried to contact the plaintiffs from Sunday night to Monday evening, but their phones were switched off and, as I was concerned for their safety, I reported them missing to the Provincial Police Commander at 6.20 pm Monday evening.
Apparently in the 36 hours between Sunday afternoon 19 September and Tuesday morning 21 September, someone had flown the three plaintiffs to Moresby, had hired them new lawyers, and they had decided to discontinue.
In their brief affidavits filed later on Tuesday as ordered by the court, they stated that they had been happy with the case, that they did not want DSTP and that they were concerned about the trouble that the case had caused and they were concerned for their safety so they wanted the case to discontinue.
Mr Medaing and his clans’ applications were due to be heard – so the judge adjourned the applications until Wednesday afternoon to be heard, as well as ordering the plaintiffs to appear.
Mr Medaing and the clans’ applications were heard, and on Friday the judge determined, as a result of affidavit material filed by Louis Medaing and intensive cross examination by the miner’s QC, that Mr Medaing was a genuine claimant in nuisance with sufficient standing to sue, but that he would not join Louis Medaing and the clans to the current proceedings because there were no proceedings left as the plaintiffs had discontinued.
His Honour said of course Mr Medaing and the clans could file fresh proceedings, which they did at 9.40 am on Friday morning 24 September, along with a motion for an injunction to prevent the construction of the DSTP system. That motion will be heard on Friday 1 October 2010.
For Mr Bland to state that I go looking for landowner plaintiffs to be puppets for some unnamed rich environmentalist is not only completely false but it is offensive to Mr Medaing and the clans and also racist in the extreme. Mr Bland fails to understand that PNGeans are capable of thinking for themselves and are capable of determining that they want the mine but they do not want their marine environment destroyed, particularly when there are safer land based tailings alternatives.
Yes there was an affidavit from a mine waste expert (not a mine paid for consultant) which set out alternatives and further that no nickel laterite project in any tropical area in the world used riverine or deep dea tailings disposal systems.
PNGeans run many court proceedings with or without lawyers and can hire lawyers if they determine to. Mr Louis Medaing and his clans successfully completed a judicial review proceedings in February this year wherein they had sought to quash the decision of the Minister for Lands to award the title over the land at the refinery when the land was subject to a dispute in the Lands Title Commission.
Mr Medaing conducted the case by himself all the way to the final hearing and then hired a lawyer to do the trial.
Mr Bland owes Mr Louis Medaing and his clans an apology.
Mr Bland chooses to make his false statements under cover of anonymity and takes aim at those that seek to protect their land through proper court processes and those who are not so cowardly to have their true names revealed.
It is one thing to have a point of view under an anonymous name; it is a whole other situation to make false and defamatory statements under the cloak of anonymity.It smacks of bad faith and maliciousness.