25 Aug 2007

Solomon Islands warlord acquitted on charges of killing seven men

9:57 am on 25 August 2007

The Solomon Islands warlord Harold Keke has been acquitted on charges of murdering seven men on Guadalcanal's Weather Coast.

But his deputy Ronnie Cawa was convicted of murdering one man in the same incident in June 2002, and was yesterday sentenced in the High Court in Honiara to life in jail.

Keke is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Cabinet Minister and Catholic priest Augustine Geve in 2002.

Cawa was already serving two life sentences, one for the murder of Geve and the other for the murder of Nathaniel Sado of the Anglican order the Melanesian Brotherhood in February 2003.

The latest case against the pair involved the murders of eight men from Kwaio in the island province of Malaita.

The court was previously told that Keke, the leader of the Guadalcanal Liberation Front was disappointed the Kwaio men were sent to the Weather Coast by the government when he was trying to reconcile with the Malaita Eagle Force militant group.

The court heard evidence from witnesses that Keke admitted to the killings but no-one heard him order his GLF men to shoot the Kwaio men.

But two witnesses gave evidence they saw Cawa shoot one of the Kwaio man.