18 Mar 2005

Solomons militant leader sentenced to life for murder of Cabinet Minister

4:25 pm on 18 March 2005

A former militant leader in Solomon Islands and two colleagues have been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Cabinet Minister Father Augustine Geve.

Harold Keke, who led the so called Guadalcanal Liberation Front, and two of his commanders, Ronnie Cawa and Francis Lela, were convicted and sentenced this afternoon in the Honiara High Court..

The murder happened at Haleatu village on the Guadalcanal Weather Coast in August 2002.

It had been revealed during the trial that Father Geve, who was the MP for the region, was killed because Keke considered he had not delivered what he had promised.

Our correspondent in Honiara, Dorothy Wickham, says Justice Frank Kabui became very emotional during the sentencing.

"When he started talking about how sad the case was that Fr Geve had to die for no reason at all, or something he said, that was out of his control, and he said he hoped no such behaviour would happen again, where Solomon Islanders killed their leaders, thinking that one person can change a lot of things in Parliament when there are 52 members there."