The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Joint Media Release

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer and The Minister for Justice and Customs, Chris Ellison

18 March 2005

Solomon Islands: Harold Keke Found Guilty

Today Harold Keke, Ronnie Cawa and Francis Lela were found guilty of the murder of Father Augustine Geve in the High Court of Solomon Islands. They were found to have murdered Father Geve on a Weathercoast beach in August 2002. All three were sentenced to life in jail.

The guilty verdict in the trial of Harold Keke and his associates is a significant achievement for Solomon Islands. It demonstrates the Solomon Islands justice system is again able effectively to uphold and enforce the laws of the country.

The verdict also symbolises that no person in Solomon Islands is above the law and that all defendants will receive a fair trial. This trial is the first of many trials regarding acts committed during the conflict period.

RAMSI has worked hand-in-hand with the Solomon Islands Government to provide infrastructure and technical assistance to the justice sector. This assistance promotes an effective, open and fair judicial system.

The support of RAMSI by Australia and other countries in the region, including the efforts being made by the Australian Federal Police, has restored order to Solomon Islands and ensured the rule of law is once again respected.

The outcome of this trial will no doubt be well received in Solomon Islands, but RAMSI and the Solomon Islands Government are aware much work remains to be done, particularly in managing the backlog of High Court cases

We are confident that the Solomon Islands justice system will continue to meet the high public aspirations in restoring the rule of law, whilst Solomon Islanders work towards putting the worst days of the conflict behind them.

Media Inquiries: Chris Kenny (Mr Downer's Office) 02 6277 7500, Brad Burke (Senator Ellison's Office) 02 6277 7260

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