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Solomons warlord finally charged for priest's murder


Solomon Islands rebel leader Harold Keke has been charged with last year's murder of Catholic priest and South Guadalcanal MP Fr Augustine Geve (pictured).

Fr Geve was shot dead in August 2002 after visiting the Weathercoast on a peace mission.

The ABC says Keke was charged with Fr Geve's murder during what was his first appearance in the Honiara Central Magistrates Court since his arrest almost a month ago.

He has also been charged with seven counts of wrongfully concealing in confinement a kidnapped or abducted person.

The court heard Geve was invited to attend a meeting with Keke in Haliatu village on Guadalcanal's Weathercoast to discuss Geve's possible resignation from the Solomon Islands Government.

Public Prosecutor Matthew Taro alleged that before Geves arrived, Keke told Haliatu villagers that he would ask them "what shall we do with this man" and instructed them to reply "kill him, he's a conman".

After asking the question of the villagers in Geve's presence and receiving their reply, it was alleged that Keke spoke briefly to Geve, then shot him with a military style firearm.

Soon after the death of Geve, Keke radioed through to the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation from his Weathercoast base and announced to a national audience that he had been responsible for the killing of Geve.

Public Solicitor Ken Averre, who is defending Keke, lodged no application for bail and made no objections to the prosecution's application for further remand.

Both Keke and Sangu were once again remanded in custody for a further 14 days. They will appear in court again on September 25.

Security outside the court house was stepped up for Keke's appearance with a crowd of nearly 2000 people surrounding the court building. A few stones were thrown at the court house and some shouted abuse at Keke.

Keke, his brother Joseph Sanngu and one of his commanders Caradina Pita Kaka have all been remanded to reappear in court on 25 September.

SOURCE
Radio Australia
Daily Telegraph/AFP

LINKS
Priest-parliament member assassinated in Solomon Islands (26/8/02)
Fr Gus' Peace Mission (Signis Pacific)
Catholic Church mourns the tragic murder of Fr. Augustine Geve (Signis Pacific)
Fr Augustine Geve killed (Signis Pacific)
Solomons Archbishop urges warlord to surrender (8/7/03)
Islanders need help to move to peace (Archbishop Adrian Smith, Sydney Morning Herald 7/7/03)
Big trouble in little paradise called Solomons (Catholic Leader)


12 Sep 2003