26 Jun 2004

Mercenaries hired in 2001 in bid to kill Solomons rebel leader Harold Keke-

9:08 am on 26 June 2004

Solomon Islands police are understood to have received information that 10 people sent to the remote Weather Coast of Guadalcanal to kill rebel leader Harold Keke three years ago were mercenaries.

The ten men hunting the Guadalcanal rebel leader were from Malaita's East Kwaio area.

A parliamentary committee says the men -- who were killed by Keke before he himself was captured last August -- had been promised more than 37- thousand American dollars each if they succeeded.

The committee did not name the organisers or financiers, but says an escaped prison inmate instigated such missions and may have received more than 2-thousand dollars for some of his exploits from the Solomons' Government Treasury.

The six-member committee was set up earlier this year at the instigation of the member of parliament for East Kwaio, Alfred Sasako.

Two years ago, Mr Sasako asked why police failed to question a Bougainville man who had been part of the alleged mercenary group, but who survived the massacre, on his return from Guadalcanal's Weather coast.