22 May 2006

RAMSI head defends police handling of riots in Solomons' capital

8:18 pm on 22 May 2006

The head of the Australian-led peacekeeping effort in Solomon Islands has defended its handling of the Honiara riots after the new government revealed it would set up a commission of inquiry into whether Australian police commanders acted negligently.

James Batley says an inquiry would be a matter for the government.

But he says the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, RAMSI, and Solomons police overall acted commendably and with distinction during the violence of April 18th and 19th.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare says his government will appoint a commission of inquiry to look at the handling of the riots after saying that the lack of preparation for the event amounted to total negligence.

Mr Batley says he did not think anyone anticipated the intensity of the violence.

He says there is a distinction to be made between understanding a climate of opinion and predicting whether specific events are going to take place.