18 Oct 2005

Solomon Islands Commissioner of Police defends use of teargas during prison protest

11:19 am on 18 October 2005

The Solomon Islands Commissioner of Police, Shane Castles, has justified the use of tear gas, or O.C. spray, during a recent riot at the central prison in Honiara.

190 out of 230 prisoners staged a three day sit-in protest after the minister responsible for prisons, Augustine Taneko, refused them access to television and private time with their wives.

Our correspondent, Dorothy Wickham, says the situation began to turn ugly when the prisoners were told to return to their cells but refused to do so.

Commissioner Castles says the use of O.C. gas was necessary because of the threat posed to the officers at the time.

"They posed an immediate, life-threatening situation to the officers, and in order to meet that threatening situation, the police from the participating police force did deploy OC spray. This was commensurate and appropriate to counter the level of threat existing at the time."

Commissioner Castles said the situation is now calm and that investigations are now underway.