31 Aug 2010

Tonga Government conducting own inquiry into fatal shooting in Solomons' capital

1:38 pm on 31 August 2010

Tongan authorities say they will conduct their own investigations into the recent shooting death in Solomon Islands of a former police officer from Guadalcanal Province.

The decision follows a request from the Solomons' adminstration for waivers to allow the Tongan soldiers attached to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, who were accused of firing the shots, to come under local jurisdiction.

Philippa Tolley has more details:

"A brawl and rock throwing in the west of the capital, Honiara, in the aftermath of election results, lead to Ramsi and police forces being called out. Shots were fired by the Ramsi force and a man in his thirties, Harry Lolongo, died. Two Tongan soldiers have since been said to have fired the shots. Investigations into the incident are still on-going, but whatever the outcome, RAMSI personnel are mostly immune from the Solomon Islands' legal system. The Solomons' Attorney General, Gabriel Suri, had sent two requests to the Tongan Government for a waiving of components under the Assistance Mission Facilitation Act. But speaking to Solomon Islands Broadcasting, Mr Suri said the Tongan cabinet had declined the requests because according to their views and findings, there was no evidence of criminal culpability on the part of the Tongan military personnel. Two representatives from Tonga spent some time in Honiara, and Mr Suri says the Tongan Cabinet believe their personnel were acting in self defence in a highly dangerous situation and that they had acted within the rules of engagement."