25 Feb 2005

Solomons judge dismisses defence challenge in Keke trial

4:28 pm on 25 February 2005

The judge in the Solomon Islands High Court trial into the killing of Cabinet Minister, Father Augustine Geve, has rejected an application by the defence to have police interviews with their clients excluded as evidence.

Justice Frank Kabui has ruled that Ronnie Cawa and Francis Lela, who are charged with the murder along with Harold Keke, were not forced to confess to police.

A government spokesman, Johnson Honimae, gave the reason for Justice Kabui's decision.

"He has rejected the application. Following the consideration of evidence, he has concluded that those two interviews were given voluntarily and at the free will of the two co-accused."

Johnson Honimae says Justice Kabui found that while Cawa and Lela were not initially told they were under arrest, this was insufficient grounds to have their interviews dismissed.

The trial has now resumed, with the Prime Minister, Sir Allen Kemakeza, giving evidence regarding correspondence between him and Fr Geve.