22 Feb 2005

Lela stood by whilst Solomons minister shot dead, court told

7:15 am on 22 February 2005

A court has been told that one of the three former Solomon Islands militants accused of the murder of a cabinet minister, had stood by at the scene of the killing.

Francis Lela has been charged, along with Harold Keke and Ronnie Cawa, of killing Father Augustine Geve on the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal on the 20th of August, 2002.

The High Court in Honiara yesterday heard the comments came during a police interview with Lela at Kolina village.

Lela said Keke first used a self-loading rifle to shoot Father Geve with three rounds in the chest.

He said Father Geve fell down but was still alive then Cawa shot the minister with two rounds from a self-loading rifle.

A defence lawyer for Lela, Michelle Swift, said the interview ought not to be admitted as evidence during the trial because she said police had induced the client to give the interview.

Ms Swift began cross-examining the police officer James Toaki, who was the interpreter during the interview.

She said one of Lela's answers had been wrongly translated into English.

The trial continues.