Tuesday, 14 August 2007 10:50 AM

Opposition Leader Faces Charges

A Name Suppression Order by the defense against naming three Solomon Islanders arrested for allegedly bribing a Member of Parliament has been lifted.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions on Monday morning amended charges against Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Fred Fono, and lifted the Suppression Order.

Mr. Fono, arrested last week, has been accused of attempting to bribe a government minister to defect. Radio Australia correspondent in Honiara, Evan Wasuka, reported that Mr. Fono now faces an additional Misconduct in Office charge on top of a Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Purpose charge.

Political supporter, Wilson Mamae, faces the same set of charges, while Honiara businessman, Mathew Wale, faces a Conspiracy charge. Their names had also been suppressed since last week when they appeared in court. These Suppression orders have also been lifted today.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader's lawyer has strongly denied the charges, stating he "will fight it out and defend my client".

Mr. Fono, in June, publicly declared having received a request from a Minister for financial assistance to send his son to New Zealand for education.
While Mr. Fono had not disclosed the identity of the Minister, he said that the Opposition had written evidence on the request.

Reliable sources within the Opposition camp however identified the Minister to be MP for West Are Are, Severino Nuaiasi. According to various sources, Mr. Nuaiasi's son applied to do computer studies in New Zealand.

Sources within the Opposition have also claimed that Mr. Nuaiasi actually asked for $70,000 SBD, but he was only given $60,000 SBD. However, when the Prime Minister broke the news, he only talked about $50,000 SBD and it is not clear what had happened to the $10,000 SBD.

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