Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Solomon Islands Fisheries Minister back in custody

Left: Jimmy 'Rasta' Lusibaea in Parliament [Photo: One Television].

The Solomon Islands Minister of Fisheries, Hon. Jimmy 'Rasta' Lusibaea has been remanded in custody.

Hon. Lusibaea was taken back to prison after he pleaded guilty to 'unlawful wounding' and 'assaulting a police officer'.

The charges were related to the an incident which occurred on the 1st September 2000 when Mr. Lusibaea was accussed of wounding Robert Solo and assaulting Police Officer Sam Manakeha at the National Referral Hosiptal premises.

The Minister prevoulsy pleaded 'not guilty' to the charges but later changed his plea only after Office Manekeha gave his side of the story in court.

According to SIBC, Officer Manakeha told the High Court that he was on duty at the National Referral Hospital during the early hours of the 1st of September in 2000 when Lusibaea, accompanied by his co-accused Patteson Saeni and a group of men came to the hospital carrying guns and pistols looking for a Robert Solo.

Solo had reportedly been involved in a shoot-out between members of the Malaita Eagle Force at the Heron's Nightclub that night. Three militants of the M-E-F had been shot during the shoot-out and were admitted at the hospital.

Solo was later severely beaten up by M-E-F militants because of the shoot-out and was later admitted at the National Referral Hospital that same night. Officer Manakeha said he had escorted Lusibaea and his group to the x-ray area of the hospital where Solo was lying in a hospital bed. He testified that Lusibaea then shot Solo at close range in each of his knees - one after the other - with a pistol he was holding.

On charges of assaulting a police officer, evidence of the crown says Lusibaea had also hit Officer Manakeha during the incident. High Court Judge David Cameron ordered that Lusibaea be remanded in custody until his next appearance on the 24th of November next week. Lusibaea's lawyers will present their submissions on a sentence to be imposed on that date.

Meanwhile, additional criminal charges of intent to cause grievous bodily harm, assault discharging firearm in a public place and possession of a firearm without a licence that were laid against the North Malaita M-P are now withdrawn. Lusibaea's co-accused Saeni will be making his plea on a charge of intent to cause grievous bodily harm tomorrow."

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