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Charges laid for Solomons priest's murder

The Solomon Islands warlord Harold Keke and two of his militia allies face court today accused of murdering Fr Augustine Geve, Catholic priest and cabinet minister, in 2002.

Today's is the first of multiple murder charges following an Australian-led investigation.

Keke took up arms on the main island of Guadalcanal against settlers from the neighbouring island of Malaita and fled to the remote Weather Coast in 2000, refusing to endorse a peace agreement. But he surrendered to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) soon after the intervention began.

Bloodshed continued on the Weather Coast, including clashes with rival government-backed militiamen, until he surrendered and was taken into custody aboard HMAS Manoora in mid-2003.

Dozens of bodies have since been exhumed on the Weather Coast by Australian forensic experts. 52 year old Fr Geve, an MP for the Weather Coast, was touring his electorate in 2002 when he was allegedly captured by Keke's men and shot dead.

Warlord faces murder charges (Sydney Morning Herald 31/1/05)

The Catholic Church in the Solomon Islands
Big trouble in little paradise called Solomons (Catholic Leader 6/7/03)
Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

Solomons warlord finally charged for priest's murder (CathNews 12/9/03)
Solomons Archbishop urges warlord to surrender (CathNews 8/7/03)
Priest-parliament member assassinated in Solomon Islands (CathNews 26/8/02)

Turin shroud could be 3,000 years old (AAP/Seven News 30/1/05)
Warlord to go on trial in Solomons (ABC News 28/1/05)

31 Jan 2005