POLICE COMMISSIONER AND SOLOMON COURIER IN DEBATE OVER MEDIA ETHICS

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (February 11, 1999 - PACNEWS/SIBC)---The managing director of one of Honiara's weekly newspapers, the Solomon Courier, has defended the paper's action in publishing a letter critical of the Police Commissioner's leadership.

Reacting to an item in Tuesday's edition of the Solomon Star, the Courier's Patterson Mae said the paper stands by the item and is willing to face legal action by Police Commissioner Frank Short.

Short said the letter, written by Martin Piri of West Guadalcanal, was irrational, defamatory and ethnically inciting, but Mae said he sees nothing defamatory or malicious in the letter. Every citizen has the constitutional right to express opinions, he stressed, and the paper carried the letter in good faith.

Short responded, however, by saying that although all citizens have the freedom of expression, that right must be safeguarded to ensure that it is not wrongly or unfairly used.

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