27 Jan 2005

Notorious Solomons rebel leader to go to trial on the first of a number of murder charges next week

5:43 pm on 27 January 2005

The former Solomon Islands militant leader, Harold Keke, goes to trial on Monday next week for the murder of Cabinet Minister Father Augustine Geve in 2002.

Facing the same charge are two other former militants, Ronny Cawa and Francis Lela.

Father Geve, who was the MP for South Guadalcanal, which included the part of the Weathercoast Keke controlled at the time, had met with the rebel leader in August of 2002 to discuss his possible resignation from Cabinet.

But it is alleged that Keke shot Father Geve, in front of his supporters, with a military style weapon.

It is the first of what will be a series of trials for Keke, who has been charged with ten other counts of murder, and arson, abduction and theft.

He has been in custody since August of 2003 after voluntarily surrendering to the Regional Assistance Mission just two weeks after it arrived in the country to restore law and order.