21 May 2003

Solomons police need public help to catch killer on Malaita

6:13 am on 21 May 2003

Solomon Islands police say their hunt to capture the killer of Australian missionary Lance Gersbach hinges on the help they receive from rural community on Malaita.

Mr Gersbach, who was the acting CEO of the Seventh Day Adventist hospital at Atoifi, was hacked to death on Sunday afternoon, at a building site at the hospital.

A police team is continuing a scene examination at Atoifi and spokesman Charles Lemoa says they will not actively pursue the alleged killer until this is complete.

The man is believed to have disappeared into the surrounding rugged bush soon after the killing.

Mr Lemoa says the commitment by the local MP, Alfred Sasako, to help bring those responsible to justice by mobilizing the local chiefs, community and church leaders will be a great hep.

"if they do that then it would be very good because that part of Malaita is qiute hard for the police to go up into the mountains and just wander about trying to do things on their own, but it all depends on the co-operation of the people."

A memorial service for Mr Gersbach was held in Honiara.