31 Jan 2005

RAMSI says beginning of Keke trial an important step forward for rule of law in Solomons.

9:35 pm on 31 January 2005

The senior police officer in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, Sandi Peisley, says the beginning of the first trial for rebel leader, Harold Keke, is an important step forward for the rule of law.

Keke and two subordinates are being tried for the murder of Cabinet Minister Fr Augustine Geve, in August 2002.

It is the first major trial since the arrival of RAMSI, which has made close to five thousand arrests since arriving in Solomon Islands 18 months to begin the restoration of law and order.

Ms Peisley says the trial is the result of many months of hard work by members of the Solomon Islands and the Participating Police Forces.

She says those responsible for building the case against Keke, Ronnie Cawa and Francis Lela, have spent the past year tracking down witnesses and taking statements.

About 30 witnesses are expected to give evidence for the prosecution.

Commander Peisley says the trial shows that the criminal justice system in Solomon Islands is alive and well.