15 Aug 2003

Solomon Islands warlord faces charges in makeshift court

8:53 am on 15 August 2003

Solomon Islands warlord Harold Keke has faced an attempted murder charge in a makeshift court after surrendering to peacekeepers

Two of his associates, Samson Leketo and Ronny Kawa, also faced murder and attempted murder charges in the hearing set up at an old beach resort commandeered as the headquarters of the Australian-led intervention force.

Keke told the court in pidgin English that the charges were unfounded and he would get an overseas lawyer before making a plea.

Australian officials say a range of other charges are possible and police investigations could take months.

The acting police commissioner has issued a directive to Solomon Islands police to withdraw all officers and support personnel from Guadalcana's weather coast in what he describes as a natural progression from the success of recent days.

Hundreds of weapons have been collected so far and today a former Malaitan militant leader, Jimmy Rasta, is expected to surrender his group's illegally held weapons in line with a public commitment made last week.

The latest weapons amnesty is due to end on Thursday.