7 Feb 2006

A former Fiji soldier escapes custody while 11 others wait to be deported from the Solomons

4:43 pm on 7 February 2006

There is a frantic search underway in the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara, for one of 12 former Fiji soldiers, who are due to be deported about now after breaching the country's immigration laws.

Immigration officials have arranged for the 12 to be on today's Nadi flight, but at last report one of the men was still atlearge after escaping from the motel in which they had been held since Saturday.

The men were in detention after immigration officials found inconsistencies in their declaration forms soon after they arrived in Honiara on last Friday's flight from Nadi.

Following the escape the caretaker Prime Mininster, Sir Allen Kemekeza, has asked for an explanation from the Director of Immigration and Police as to why the Fijians weren't monitored more closely.

The former soldiers, all veterans of Middle East peace keeping duties, planned to join five colleagues who have been providing security for money scam operator, Noah Musingku, in southern Bougainville.