20 Sep 2002

Former Solomon Islands rebel commander claims senior policemen aided rebel group

10:33 am on 20 September 2002

In Solomon Islands, a commander of the former rebel militant group, the Malaita Eagle Force, claims they had senior police help in raiding the police armoury at Auki in 1999.

In a statement to the local broadcaster, the Solomon Islands Broadcasting

Corporation, Jimmy Rasta, says when the MEF was formed in November of 1999 to fight the Isatambu Freedom Movement, they had no guns.

But he says Wilfred Akao, the current Deputy Commissioner, and Joseph Baetolingia, the current Director of the Police Field Force, helped them.

Mr Rasta claims in the statement that Mr Akao supplied a point 22 rifle and a pistol, while Mr Baetolingia drew up the plan for a raid on the Auki armoury.

Mr Akao has described the accusations as totally false and says they are part of a plan by some former militants to split the Force and disrupt its efforts to maintain l law and order.

Earlier this week, the Police Commissioner, Morton Sireheti, commented that the Force remained united despite the attempts of some former militants to undermine it.

Meanwhile the Solomon Islands Christian Association yesterday praised the police for their efforts in combatting crime in recent weeks.

The Chairman of SICA's Church and Society Committee, Reverend Eric Takila, says the law and order difficulties the country faces must not be underestimated and the police need all the help they can get.