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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Former Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) leader accused of demanding money with menace freed by court

A HIGH Court judge yesterday freed former commander of Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) Jimmy Rasta Lusibaea of a charge of demanding money with menace.

His co-accused Alex Bartlett, Andrew Fioga and James Kili were also discharged. The former MEF leaders were charged with demanding money with menace in relation to an incident at the QQQ Wholesale in Honiara in 2000.

But recently, they applied to the High Court arguing that they were covered under the Amnesty Act. This was because the incident occurred between 5 June 2000 and 15 October 2000 – the period covered under the act.

Justice Sekove Naqiolevu in his ruling yesterday said he accepted the accused’s application. He said the four men were granted amnesty because their application came within the provision of the amnesty act.

It was alleged that on 11 July 2000 the four men went into the QQQ bottle shop in China town with a letter written by Alex Bartlett. The letter demanded the shop owners to pay a fine of $25,000 for selling alcohol during hours the MEF had imposed a ban.

Police alleged the four threatened the staff of QQQ. QQQ paid them a cheque of $25,000. The accused made the application on 5th this month – the day their trial should start.

The court ruling means Fioga and Bartlett are now free men. Lusibaea still has two more cases against him – the Development Bank of Solomon Islands (DBSI) case and the National Referral Hospital case.

Those two cases have been listed for hearing next year. Kili is facing a murder trial listed for next year. Lusibaea and Kili are currently on bail.

Source: Solomon star

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