MEF Shoots Dead Arson Suspect
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By Duran Angiki USP's Pacific Journalism Online
GIZO, Western Solomons: A former Malaita Eagle Force member suspected of setting fire to a building housing the office of the militia legal representative has been shot dead in the capital of the Solomon Islands, Honiara.
Assistant Police Commissioner Operation, Wilfred Akao revealed that the man was shot by armed MEF militia while in police custody but died on his arrival at the Honiara National Referral Hospital.
The dead man, who was one of two suspects over setting fire to the building last Friday, allegedly fled Honiara to neighboring Malaita Provincial town, Auki.
Police confirmed that over the weekend, armed members loyal to the MEF spokesman, Andrew Nori, went to Auki and captured the suspect.
On arrival in Honiara yesterday, police placed the suspect who was badly beaten in custody, but armed MEF militia allegedly walked into his cell and shot him in both his legs.
The latest killing by militia of their former colleague in police custody climaxed an alleged split in the MEF camp over the last two weeks.
The three-story building, which housed the law firm of the legal adviser of the MEF, Andrew Nori, caught fire on Friday afternoon but fire fighters were unable to douse the fire.
Police in the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara, yesterday claimed that the fire was allegedly started in the third floor.
The legal law firm of the MEF spokesman, Crystal Lawyers, had formerly occupied the third floor of the building, where the fire allegedly started.
Other local business’ formerly occupying the building included Placemakers Hardware and the Romanos Resturant.
Wilfred Akao, yesterday said due to the sensitivity of the case the preliminary investigation so far has not found any lead or suspect.
He said an investigation team comprised of members of the unarmed Solomon Islands Police and MEF continued to probe the case.
Sources closed to the national government yesterday said the burning down of the building had been caused by a number of reasons.
Prior to the burning down of the building, discharged members of the ethnic Malaitan militia demanded their leaders pay money allegedly owed to them.
A few days after the dispute, a similar fire engulfed the former headquarters of the Guadalcanal Province, seized by the MEF militia after the coup on June 5.
Following this, disgruntled militia went on a drinking spree at one of the country’s premier hotels.
Disgruntled militia later harassed a member of the Solomon Islands Peace Monitoring Council.
This prompted the chairman of the PMC, Sir Peter Kenilorea, to appeal to the MEF ethnic militia to stop harassing members of his group.