24 May 2006

Solomons police defend police action during Honiara riots

9:40 am on 24 May 2006

Police chiefs in Solomon Islands have expressed surprise and anger at statements from the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare that they and their staff performed negligently during the rioting last month in Honiara.

Mr Sogavare is to set up a commission of inquiry into the police' performance.

He says police had made no preparations and that they were totally negligent.

Australian Shane Castles, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Commissioner, says he welcomes the inquiry but totally refutes the accusations that police handling of the riots was negligent.

Another Australian, Will Jamieson, who commands the Participating Police Force, which is made up of officers from the 14 nations in the Regional Assistance Mission, says the claims of negligence are irresponsible and without foundation.

He says the PPF performed well above the call of duty and reports of incredible acts of bravery by officers during the riots are still coming to light.

Commander Jamieson says these are not the actions of people who do not care about what happens in Honiara and the Solomons.

He says the PPF remains committed to the Solomons.