SOLOMONS POLICE ARREST SEPARATIST SUSPECT

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 19) – Solomon Islands police investigating threats issued in the name of so-called Malaita Separatist Movement yesterday charged Elton Kenasi with threatening murder and violence and demands with menace.

Kenasi, 32, who lives at Kaibia settlement, Central Honiara, was arrested yesterday morning in a joint operation by members of the RSIP/PPF National Investigations team.

Shortly after his arrest, Kenasi appeared in the Honiara Magistrate Court charged with four counts of making written threats to murder, two counts of threatening violence and two counts of demands with menace.

The charges relate to a series of letters sent to Ministers, Members of Parliament and Government Departments in April and May this year.

The letters were purported to be from a militant group calling itself the Malaita Separatist Movement (MSM).

The letters also threatened violence if the Prime Minister did not resign from office and if certain Government ministers did not resign.

Police Commissioner Shane Castles praised the professionalism of the investigative team that worked many long hours to gather evidence in the case.

"We view threats of violence and intimidation aimed at undermining the democratic process of Solomon Islands as a serious crime, which can now be determined by the courts.

"The investigative team is to be congratulated on the thorough job they have done in preparing this case," Mr Castles said.

Kenasi was remanded in custody over night and will reappear before the Honiara Magistrate Court this afternoon for a bail application.

His lawyer, Colin Baker from the Public Solicitor’s Office confirmed to the Solomon Star yesterday that he will lodge a bail application on behalf of his client at 1.30pm today.

Many Malaitans have strongly disassociated them from MSM following media reports of the formation of the group.

In May, leaders and chiefs of various regions in Malaita told the visiting Forum Eminent Persons Group (FEPG) that was here then to review RAMSI operations, that they totally opposed MSM.

The MSM letters also demanded that RAMSI pull out from Solomon Islands because "the regional assistance mission is discriminating against the people of Malaita".

But leaders and the majority of Malaitans denied the claims and asked RAMSI to launch an investigation into the claims and arrest those who threatened the current peace process in the country.

It was understood that the hunt for Kenasi had taken the police months before he was finally arrested yesterday.

August 22, 2005

Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com/

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