7 May 2004

Australia says 19 police officers on Solomons rape inquiry

9:16 am on 7 May 2004

Australia' Justice Minister says more than a dozen police officers are investigating the alleged rape of a female soldier in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.

Chris Ellison says he expects the acting Solomon Islands police commissioner, Ben McDevitt, to announce his findings, early next week.

Senator Ellison, described it as a thorough investigation, involving nineteen officers, and he says the allegations have been taken very seriously.

The alleged rape had been condemned by the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, and the Police Minister, Michael Maina, had asked for inquiries to be speeded up so the truth could be established quickly.

Reliable police sources say they doubt any Solomon Islander in his right mind would go near the area where the alleged rape occurred.

They say this is because the area is under 24 hours surveillance by armed RAMSI forces.