2 Dec 2010

Solomon Islands official defends PM supporting Lusibaea

11:11 am on 2 December 2010

A spokesperson for the Solomon Islands prime minister denies it's inappropriate for Danny Philip to support his former fisheries minister who's been jailed on assault charges committed during the ethnic tensions.

Following the two year and nine month sentence handed down to Jimmy Lusibaea, the Prime Minister said he would try to ensure proper justice was achieved for him.

Danny Philip's press secretary Alfred Sasako says Lusibaea now has 30 days to lodge an appeal, and his position as MP could be extended by 150 days by the parliamentary speaker if he does so.

Mr Sasako says it is appropriate for the Prime Minister to stand by Lusibaea

"I think what he meant is the sort of the moral support that every member of government has towards each other. If Mr Lusibaea so decides to contest the ruling then I'm sure that that moral support could be extended to help cover his costs by individual members of government, but I'm merely speculating on that."

Alfred Sasako says in Melanesian society people do not continue to hold the past against each other once someone has paid for their crime.

The Solomon Islands Police Commissioner says he's pleased with his officers' response to unrest in Honiara on Tuesday that led to 43 arrests.

Stones were thrown, youths tried to break into shops, and property was vandalised, following the sentencing of Jimmy Lusibaea.

He was sentenced to two years and nine months jail for assault charges committed during the ethnic tensions.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall says unemployed youths used the sentencing to whip up excitement, and those arrested are likely to face charges including possession of weapons, theft and assault on police.

A report on Solomon Islands ONE Television suggested police had failed to deploy enough officers on the streets when they had received advance threats of rioting.

But Peter Marshall says there's been a largely complimentary response to police actions

We had very good plans in place and it resulted in Chinatown in particular being protected, minimal damage and I think it's a pretty proud day for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.

Peter Marshall says there's no evidence supporters of Lusibaea were involved in the disturbance