3 Feb 2004

Solomons minister jailed for three years for extortion

3:43 pm on 3 February 2004

A Solomon Islands government minister, Daniel Fa'afunua, has been jailed for three years for extortion and threats of armed violence.

Fa'afunua, who is the Communications, Aviation and Meteorology Minister, was found guilty in a Honiara court for his role in an extortion by a group of armed men who demanded money from the publisher of the Solomon Star newspaper for an article he disliked.

The jail sentence makes Fa'afunua ineligible to continue as a member of parliament.

The acting Chief Magistrate, David Chetwynd, accepted that while Fa'afunua was not with the gunmen, he hadn't opposed their actions.

The defence argued that compensation demands were a way of life but Mr Chetwynd said the extortion demands backed by guns was a perversion of all that is good about custom.

Fa'afunua also faces charges of assault, drunk and disorderly behaviour, giving a false identity, resisting arrest, and causing malicious damage.

A trial for these charges is set for February 23rd.