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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (SIBC, July 28) – Jimmy Rasta Lusibaea, the former leader of the rebel "Malaita Eagle Force," this morning was sentenced to five years in prison for a robbery offence, the first charge against him to be tried and concluded by a Solomon Islands court.

Lusibaea and a former senior police officer, Manasseh Maelanga, were jointly charged with the 2000 offense. Maelanga also received a five year prison term.

However, presiding Magistrate, Jane Hamilton White, said Maelanga will serve only three of the five years consecutively to his present eight year jail term, while the other two will be served concurrently.

This means Maelanga will now serve eleven years in jail.

SIBC News understands that Maelanga is still to be tried for other charges against him, including rape, while Rasta Lusibaea is still to be tried for murder and other charges against him.

The Magistrates Court had heard during the two men's trial that on June 15, 2000, the two men stole vehicles worth about SB$600,000 (US$81,000).

They were armed during the incident.

During mitigation, defense lawyer told the court that vehicles were needed for the general protection then, and therefore the two men requested the vehicles from Ela Motors as an assistance in the maintenance of law and order in the capital.

But the Magistrate Ms Hamilton White said the court is unable to accept such proposition.

She said the court has clear evidence that both men behaved in a lawless fashion, thinking that they will not be called to answer for their actions.

She said such actions are not part of the future of Solomon Islands and its people.

July 29, 2004

Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp.:

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