1 Nov 2007

Solomons police probe beating by Tongan soldiers

3:38 pm on 1 November 2007

Solomon Islands police are investigating an incident in North Malaita in which Tongan soldiers allegedly brawled with youths who had resisted arrest.

The Malu'u provincial police station has confirmed that five victim statements have been taken after the incident earlier this week in the village of Manakwai.

The incident follows the theft of fuel from a depot by youths who were caught by police but resisted arrest.

The government-appointed special envoy to RAMSI, Michael Maina has confirmed receiving the reports and is investigating.

Our reporter in Solomon Islands, Dorothy Wickham, says some of the youths were injured and several remain in hospital.

She says there are reports that the Tongan soldiers have received backing from the elders in Manakwai village.

"We spoke to one of the government workers in Malu'u posted in the substation and he said the village elders in Manakwai are supporting the Tongan soldiers because they considered these youths a bit of a nuisance, I think they have been causing trouble. So the elders are in support of the Tongan soldiers' actions and so they are not willing to criticise what happened during this incident."

Dorothy Wickham