4 Feb 2004

Solomons editor relieved at jailing of minister for extortion

7:25 am on 4 February 2004

The editor of the Solomon Star newspaper says the jailing of Cabinet Minister Daniel Fa'afanua is a sign that justice is returning to the country.

Fa'afanua was jailed for three years for his role in an extortion by a group of armed men who demanded money from the publisher of the Solomon Star newspaper for an article the Minister disliked.

The paper's editor, Ofani Eremae, says the sentencing is welcoming news for the paper's staff.

"It's a relief for those of us at the Solomons Star. it was a very, very hurtful experience when the minister sent in his thugs to demand 5,000 dollars from us."

Ofani Eremae.

Fa'afanua also faces charges of assault, drunk and disorderly behaviour, giving a false identity, resisting arrest, and causing malicious damage, arising from incidents last November.

The victim of the alleged assaults was a New Zealand policewoman attached to the Regional Assistance Mission.

Meanwhile a spokesman for the Prime Minister says they expect to discuss a Cabinet replacement for Fa'afanua today.

The Electoral Commissioner, John Babalu, has confirmed that the disgraced Communications and Aviation Minister, Daniel Fa'afanua, will become ineligible to serve as an MP after being jailed.

Mr Babalu says he will initiate the formal process that would see Fa'afanua stood down once he has received official notification of the sentence.

Mr Babalu says under the Constitution if an MP is jailed for six months or more, then that's it.

He says it's a disgrace that an MP has been involved in such activities.