Priest sought on eco-terrorism charges

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a Melanesian priest for eco-terrorism after he led an attack on a Malaysian logging company that led to the destruction of over $180,000 in machinery.

Radio New Zealand reports the Rev. Patterson Nibeo roused a mob on Vanikoro Island in the Solomon Island’s Temotu province to protest the logging of tropical hardwoods on the island. On 26 December 2013 Fr. Nibeo and five other men armed with bows and arrows ran off the watchmen at the logging camp and then proceeded to smash the company’s boats, trucks and saws.

Police Commander Alfred Uiga told Radio New Zealand the police were proceeding carefully in detaining the suspects “because it deals with somebody like an Anglican priest who is supposed to set some good example for people out there in the community. But somehow he do the opposite.”

Political leaders in Temotu province have fought to prevent overseas timber firms from clearing their forests, and have so far refused to give the company a local business license. Locals have objected to the national government allowing foreign firms to exploit the island’s resources, while concerns that deforestation will devastate the island’s ecosystem including existing farms and offshore fishing have fueled the protests.

However, Temotu Premier Brown Beu, who staunchly opposed the proposed logging operation from the start, said if the vandals have broken the law, they must face the consequences of their acts.

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