SAMOAN COP PLEADS GUILTY IN SOLOMONS DEATH

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RAMSI officer killed nurse in drunk driving accident

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 1, 2010) - A Samoan member of the Participating Police Force (PPF) pleaded guilty to driving a vehicle that killed a young nurse in 2008 in Honiara, when he appeared in the High Court yesterday.

Misi Matamu was charged with one count of causing death by dangerous or reckless driving and one count of endangering safety of the person traveling in the vehicle.

This was in relation to the 13 June 2008 incident at Tasahe.

The accused and a colleague, who were off-duty at that time and were reportedly drunk, was driving down the Tasahe road when his vehicle hit the girl who was returning home with her friends from a religious gathering.

Matamu was escorted to the High Court yesterday by Samoa’s Police Commissioner, Papalii Lorenese Neru.

Prosecutor Rebecca Christensen in her submission wanted the accused to remain in custody awaiting conviction and sentencing. She said this is because the accused will get a custodial sentence.

Ms Christensen added a psychiatric report on the accused will be provided to the court.

The hearing before Justice Rex Foukona heard that a custom reconciliation will be held between the accused and the victim’s family once a date is arranged by the National Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

Linda McSpedden of the Public Solicitor’s Office, who represented the accused, requested bail instead than remand.

In her submission, she sought the accused be granted the bail and to leave for Samoa and return back for sentencing for fear of his safety.

The prosecution however, opposed bail saying granting bail to a man who pleaded guilty to serious charges is entirely extraordinary.

Ms Christensen strongly opposed the accused’s return to Samoa on the basis that there is acknowledgement of his Government and representatives of Samoa to return to Solomon Island and to answer to the charges before the court here.

She added that there is going to be a custom ceremony that will need the presence of the accused.

"He will also need to be seen by a psychiatric doctor which means a face to face meeting."

Justice Foukona granted bail with conditions after hearing the submissions and ordered the accused to remain in Honiara while waiting for sentencing on May 28.

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