4 Apr 2005

Murder trial of ex-Malaita Eagle members due to get underway in Solomons today

12:20 pm on 4 April 2005

The trial of the former Solomon Islands militant Jimmy 'Rasta' Lusibaea is expected to begin at the High Court in Honiara today.

Mr Lusibaea is the first former militant from the Malaita Eagle Force to be tried in the High Court in connection with murder.

Mr Lusibaea is charged with assault, and two others, Patterson Saeni and Eddly Iro'ota, are charged with murder, over the killing of a man who was in police custody in Honiara.

The victim was being questioned over the suspected arson of a commercial building in Honiara, which housed the offices of the lawyer linked to the Eagle Force, Andrew Nori.

The Australian lawyer, Gary Scott, is expected to be a key member of the defence team for Mr Lusibaea.

Mr Lusibaea was arrested by members of the intervention force in October 2003.

Today's hearing is the second high-profile murder trial this year, related to killings during ethnic unrest.

The former Guadalcanal Liberation Force leader Harold Keke was last month jailed for life for killing a government minister in 2002.