17 Oct 2003

Fomer Solomon Islands rebel leader Jimmy Rasta arrested on murder charge

4:27 pm on 17 October 2003

Security forces in Solomon Islands have arrested a former Malaitan militia commander, Jimmy Rasta, and charged him with murder.

Rasta is alleged to have killed two special constables.

The police commissioner, Bill Morrell, says it took time to lay the charges.

"It is a matter of collecting evidence and in some cases when people exert a lot of power, they intimidate people, and to get witnesses to come forward can be difficult"

The Solomon Islands police commissioner, Bill Morrell.

The Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says Jimmy Rasta's arrest is a further example of the success of the Australian-led regional peacekeeping mission in restoring law and order to the Solomons.

Mr Downer says Rasta is one of the most notorious ex-militants in the country and a man responsible for much of the troubles over the last few years.