17 Jul 2002

Solomons minister uses militant gang in a so-called compensation demand

11:15 am on 17 July 2002

There are reports from Solomon Islands that for the second time in six months, a Cabinet Minister has used a militant gang to get thousands of dollars, claiming it was compensation.

The gang members, proteges of a former militant leader, Jimmy Rasta, on Friday demanded and got nearly four thousand US dollars in cash and goods from a Honiara business.

The men were not carrying guns but Jimmy Rasta is known to have ready access to illegal weapons.

The men demanded the money, saying it was compensation, because the business employed a man who was in a relationship with the separated wife of Daniel Fa'afanua, the Minister of Economic Reform and Structural Adjustment.

Police have confirmed the incident, involving an MP they do not name, but say the money was paid as compensation and that the business owner has not asked for charges to be laid.

The men also demanded and got more than 1400 hundred US dollars from the woman's family.

Earlier this year, Daniel Fa'afanua, used gunmen to extort around 800 US dollars from the publisher of the country's only daily newspaper, because he was unhappy with a story the paper ran.