31 Jan 2005

Tight security as trial opens in Solomons Islands of former militant, Harold Keke

6:45 am on 31 January 2005

Police in Solomon Islands are heightening security at the High Court today as the trial of the former militant, Harold Keke, opens to hear one charge of murder against him.

Keke is accused of using a military-style weapon to shoot dead a Cabinet minister, Father Augustine Geve, on the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal in August of 2002.

Facing the same charge are two other former militants, Ronny Cawa and Francis Lela.

Regional assistance mission officers arrested Keke in 2003, and have since charged him with a total of eleven murders, as well as arson, abduction and theft.

The Assistant Police Commissioner John Lansley says armed police officers will be enforcing personal security checks including searches at the entrances to the court complex in Honiara.

Security measures include no parking in, or around, the High Court complex, and a ban on personal belongings in the court, including bags.

Assistant Commissioner Lansley there will be only limited space available in the court for the public.

But he says local and foreign media are able to access the court hearings so that the broader public can be informed of the court proceedings.