20 Oct 2006

Solomons leader sacks his Australian police chief

6:28 pm on 20 October 2006

The Solomon Islands government has moved to sack the Australian who heads the country's police force.

An official with the Regional Assistance Mission, RAMSI, says the Australian High Commission has been notified by the government that the services of police commissioner, Shane Castles, are no longer required.

"Yesterday (thurs ) the prime minister Manasseh Sogavare threatened to take action against Mr Castles after the laying of charges against the immigration minister Peter Shanel."

But Mr Castles said in a statement he had done nothing more than uphold the rule of law and fulfill his constitutional and statutory responsibilities.

Meanwhile this afternoon police executed a search warrant on the prime minister's office as they investigate how the Australian fugitive lawyer Julian Moti was smuggled into the country.

Police say the warrant was part of an investigation into Mr Shanel who has been accused of lying about an order that allowed Mr Moti to enter the Solomons without a valid passport.

He appeared in court yesterday( thursday) on charges which included perverting the course of justice.

Mr Sogavare is now in Fiji for a meeting with his fellow Melanesian leaders ahead of next week's Pacific Islands Forum summit.