4 May 2011

Former Malaitan militants apologise for actions during Solomons unrest

3:21 pm on 4 May 2011

The chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Solomon Islands says former Malaitan militants have apologised for their actions during the ethnic tensions.

Ex-militants appeared before the commission for the first time this week during a hearing in Malaita.

Commission chair Father Sam Ata says the apology came as 19 combatants from the Malaita Eagle Force gave testimony.

Father Ata says the militants told the hearing they'd retaliated after the government failed for 18 months to respond to their demands for compensation for the deeds of Guadalcanal forces.

"They took up arms just purely out of revenge for what the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army did to women and girls, they raped women, and also the girls and violently harassed the people from Malaita."

Father Ata says while the Malaitan militants were cautious about speaking about their own actions for fear of prosecution, the apology is an important part of the healing process.