28 Aug 2003

Another Keke commander charged with murder in Honiara

8:41 pm on 28 August 2003

One of the lieutenants of the Solomon Islands warlord Harold Keke has yesterday charged with two counts of murder, abduction and arson.

Carradine Pitakaka, Keke and another two of his commanders, appeared in a makeshift court in Honiara.

The cases against the men were adjourned until September 11 to give time for police to prepare their briefs.

Keke is facing charges of attempted murder, robbery, possession of unlicensed firearms and for being a member of an illegal association during five-years of ethnic conflict.

Australia, which is leading the intervention team to the country, and says it is important for Keke to be able to explain his role in the conflict, is paying for him to be represented by British expatriate lawyer Ken Averre.

During the hearing, Solomon Islands Chief Magistrate David Chetwynd hit out at a New Zealand lawyer, John Moroney, who had tried unsuccessfully to represent Keke.

Mr Moroney arrived in the Solomons this week claiming to be Keke's lawyer, and saying the intervention force had prevented him from seeing the detained militant.

But Mr Chetwynd told the court that Mr Moroney - who had not applied to be sworn in as a lawyer in the Solomons - had treated the Solomons like a "Mickey Mouse jurisdiction".