28 Aug 2003

Solomon rebel leader Keke in court

4:25 pm on 28 August 2003

The Solomon Islands rebel leader Harold Keke has appeared in a Honiara court for a hearing of charges of attempted murder, unlawful association, and firearms offences.

He was arrested two weeks ago only hours after several rounds of negotiations with the Australian-led intervention force led to his surrender.

A senior magistrate, Jefferson Leeua, says witnesses who may be in danger from Keke's supporters will be under intervention force protection.

Mr Leeua says today the charges are being reviewed.

"They are going through what is called preliminary matters to confirm whether the existing charges will be persued or not and to add additional ones and the next and the most important thing is to gather evidence to be produced in court which will mean calling people, collecting material evidence such as guns, ammunition whatever may be needed to prove the charges."

Mr Leeua says the legal proceedings against Keke are likely to continue until next year.