Acting Solomons Police Commissioner Asked To Step Down

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Matanga ordered release of businessman suspected of fraud

By Daniel Namosuaia

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 21, 2013) – Acting Police Commissioner Juanita Matanga has been called on to step down for failing to defend police interests in the Solomon Islands.

The call came following reports that Ms. Matanga advised police to release Chinese businessman Xu Qiang from custody early Sunday morning.

It was claimed that Ms. Matanga was given directives from top government officials and an executive officer on holiday for the release of Mr. Qiang.

However Deputy Director of the National Criminal Investigation Division (NCID) at Rove, Nathaniel Gabagina,stood his ground not to release Mr. Qiang since it was a court order from the chief magistrate Leonard Maena.

It was reported that an argument stemmed out between those who stand by the court order and those who wants to release Mr. Qiang.

But how Qiang was released was very suspicious, since it defies the order of the magistrate to detain the Chinese national until yesterday to appear in Court, it was revealed.

It’s understood that Qiang was arrested for failing to cooperate with police over allegations he was involved in money laundering.

Under the Police Act, only the Director of NCID is the gazetted person who has the power to release anyone from custody.

However, it did not happen, and those responsible for the release of Qiang are also called on to be disciplined.

Former president of Senior and Sub-ordinate Police Officers Association (SPOA) William Baetalua has called on the acting police commissioner to step down and relevant authorities to investigate and put those executive police officers involved in Qiang’s release for discipline.

"The actions of these few executives including the acting commissioner have tarnished the name of the force and the trust and confidence the force tries to build with the public.

"Ms. Matanga should be sacked and officers involved disciplined or demoted for their illegal actions," Mr. Baetalua said.

It was further reported that there is a split between the NCID Rove and Central CID. Rove NCID has captured Mr. Qiang however Central CID released him without the directives of the Director of NCID.

Baetalua said he was surprised to see the acting commissioner making the biggest mistake to be pulled by the nose to give instructions for the release of a man under investigations and was ordered by court to be detained.

"What powers do the acting commissioner and his executive officers have to release Mr. Qiang?

"They should have protected and stand by police procedures but instead they acted against the code of practice of the force in this case," Mr. Baetalua stressed, adding that instead of protecting and rescuing the force the acting police commissioner is doing otherwise.

The Solomon Star understands that the decision by police for Qiang’s release on Sunday morning has angered chief magistrate Maena and he has ordered police to re-arrest of Mr. Qiang who is currently in custody.

He now awaits his court appearance set for the 3rd of June.

Attempts to get comment from the acting police commissioner last night were unsuccessful.

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