2 Nov 2007

RAMSI probes reports of altercation between soldiers and drunk Solomons' youths

2:17 pm on 2 November 2007

The chief military officer with the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands says Tongan soldiers involved in an altercation with youths will face severe punishment if they conducted themselves improperly.

But Lieutenant Colonel, Ian Upjohn, says an investigation is underway into a series of incidents on North Malaita last week, and he has an open mind.

He says these incidents included thefts and a barrage of rocks directed at the soldiers.

Lieutenant Colonel Upjohn says these events prompted the soldiers to go on patrol during which they discovered youths drunk on kwaso or homebrew and an altercation developed .

"If they are attacked I expect them to defend themselves. By the same token everyone is subject to rules of engagement and the need to use force only if reasonable and necessary and not more than that. And if my investigation leads me to people who have conducted themselves improperly then they will be dealt with quite severely."

Lieutenant Colonel, Ian Upjohn