PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT
Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
MALAITA REBEL LEADER ACQUITTED OF 2002 -MURDER
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, September 3) – Jimmy Rasta Lusibaea – [former leader of the Malalita Eagle Force (MEF)] - was acquitted of the death of two special constables allegedly killed in his yard at Ranadi in the Solomon Islands in January 2002.
Three of his four co-accused were also acquitted of the double murder charges.
Only accused Rocky Diobesi, who was alleged to have pressed the trigger, was still facing one of the murder charges. He was cleared of another.
The four accused were acquitted due to insufficient evidence.
Justice Naqiolevu released the four accused, Tuesday, after their lawyers submitted no case to answer applications to the court last week.
The lawyers argued that the prosecution had not made out a case against their clients.
Justice Naqiolevu accepted the arguments, saying there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
The defence said their clients could not be convicted on the evidence the prosecution presented.
Patrick Southey, who represented Diobesi, described evidence witnesses had presented as "tainted."
"Their evidence is inherently dangerous," Mr Southey said.
Martin Anders, who represented Fataloa Mamanu, said the evidence witnesses had presented lacked both weight and reliability.
Vicky Koto, Lusibaea's partner, Mamanu and Lee Aladani were released from Rove Prison on Tuesday after the ruling was made.
They've spent more than two years in jail on remand.
Lusibaea is still serving a five-year prison term for [a 2000 robbery].
He also has a number of outstanding cases pending before the courts.
Diobesi remains in custody awaiting the outcome of his case, which was concluded yesterday.
The court was earlier told constables Hudson Hati and Max Ula, both from Guadalcanal, were brought to Lusibaea's yard by a former MEF.
They attempted to escape but were recaptured and killed.
Their bodies were later found at the Lungga river mouth.
September 4, 2006
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