FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — A court in Sierra Leone has convicted six people of destroying 40 palm trees that belonged to a French company accused of land grabbing in the West African nation.
The defendants also were sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay more than $10,000 — an enormous sum in the deeply impoverished country.
Among the defendants was the leader of a land owners association that has accused European agribusiness company SOCFIN of land grabbing.
Protesters say SOCFIN's agreement to farm the land lacked adequate compensation and transparency.
SOCFIN, which is owned by the French company Bollore, has over the years denied any wrongdoing, saying it has complied with all government laws and regulations.