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Article

9 Apr 2021

Author:
Kate Lyons, The Gurdian

Fiji: Judge finds Freesoul Real Estate guilty in landmark case over unauthorised development

...[A] Fijian court handed down a guilty verdict against the developers....

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In 2018, Freesoul real estate, a Chinese-linked company, began work on Malolo Island, a 5km-long tourist island that lies about 20km west of the main island of Fiji, with plans to build Fiji’s largest holiday resort: roughly 350 bures and the nation’s first casino.

Shortly after work began, Freesoul was accused of causing massive environmental degradation, including claims Freesoul parked diggers on top of pristine reef, dug a channel 100 metres long and 20 metres wide through the reef to allow barges to bring supplies onto land, dumped the coral they dug up onto the pristine beachfront of their neighbours’ land, destroyed huge swathes of mangrove and piped sewage directly from their workers’ toilet block into the ocean.

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Freesoul was found guilty of two counts of undertaking unauthorised development and found not guilty of one count of failing to comply with a prohibition notice. Sentencing will occur on 5 May.

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