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FIJI: $25m lawsuit against Fiji Sun, government

TIMBER FIRM SUES STATE

SUVA: Timber Resource Management has sued the Fiji Islands government for $25 million for [allegedly] defamatory statements made against it in a full-page [advertisement] published in the Fiji Sun on April 4, the Fiji Times reports.

TRM proceeded with legal action after the government refused to publish a full retraction and an apology for the allegations made in the [advertisement] titled "The Real Facts About the Mahogany Deal''.

Concurrent action is also being pursued in United States courts.

The company has named six defendants - the Minister for Information, the Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Forests, the Attorney-General, Fiji Sun editor Stan Ritova, publisher Tony Singh and proprietor Sandeep Patel.

In the writ filed yesterday, TRM lawyer Isireli Fa took the government to task over allegations his clients were not putting any money into the project.

The company had submitted to the government a proposal for the funding and development of the Fiji Hardwood Corporation.

The government had claimed "there were fundamental shortcomings in the TRM proposal that make it totally unacceptable to any right-thinking government''.

TRM took out a three-page advertisement in the Fiji Times yesterday refuting allegations by the government in the [advertisement], including TRM's lack of any track record anywhere and that the company proposals carried very high risks for Fiji.

The company has also asked the courts to prevent the Government from publishing anything else that might be deemed as libelous against TRM.

+++niuswire

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