26 Jul 2006

Hearing in Solomons hears more details of riot charge

7:22 pm on 26 July 2006

A preliminary hearing into the April riots in Honiara has heard that an MP told his supporters that there would be ethnic tension between Solomon Islanders and the Chinese community.

Three weeks after East Honiara member Charles Dausabea allegedly made the statement, most of Honiara's Chinatown district was destroyed in riots.

The unrest followed the election of Snyder Rini as prime minister and Dausabea is now facing charges of inciting the riot, intimidation and threat.

Crown witness John Afu told the magistrate's court that Dausabea made the statement during a campaign speech a week before the elections.

Dausabea is alleged to have told his supporters that ethnic tension would arise with the Chinese people because they have more land than Solomon Islanders.

The hearing, which has been conducted under tight security, will decide if the evidence against Dausabea is strong enough to warrant a High Court hearing.

Also facing charges are MP Nelson Ne'e, a former minister, Alex Bartlett, and former Honiara City Council President, Robert Wales Faretalia.

Dausabea was briefly made the police minister by the current prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, but lost his job because he has been in remand since April.