Tuesday, 17 June 2008 7:08 AM

Police Leaders Lay Hilda to Rest

The Commander of RAMSI's Participating Police Force, Denis McDermott and the mission's most senior Pacific Island representative, assistant Special Coordinator, Mataiasi Lomaloma today travelled to Malaita with the Solomon Islands Police Commissioner, Peter Marshall to attend the funeral of the late Hilda Ilabae.

Ms Ilabae, a trainee nurse, died on Friday following a road accident involving a vehicle driven by a Samoan police officer currently serving with the Regional Assistance Mission.

Speaking during the funeral service conducted in the Ilabae family's village of Talakali, in Langa Langa, Malaita Province, Commander McDermott said it was a sad and tragic day for all concerned.

"Today I am hurting and feel great regret for your loss," Mr McDermott said. "I ask that each and every person here today and in the Solomon Islands accept RAMSI's heartfelt condolences for what has happened"

At the request of the Ilabae family, Solomon Islands two police chiefs, Mr McDermott and Mr Marshall were given the honour and duty of placing the late Ms Ilabae in her final resting place, beside her family home.

RAMSI's Pacific Island contingent felt a special connection with Solomon Islanders, Assistant Special Coordinator, Mataiasi Lomaloma said. "This had made the recent tragic events all the more painful," he said.

Mr Lomaloma also hand-delivered a letter from RAMSI's Special Coordinator, Tim George to the Ilabae family conveying his personal apology for the loss of their daughter.

The Solomon Islands Police Commissioner, Peter Marshall, told mourners that he had come to regard Solomon Islands as his home.

"I've met some very special family members in the past few days. Members of the Solomon Islands Police Force have been with you since Friday evening and I want to tell you that they will continue to support you in the future. You loss is our loss," he said.

Representatives of the Ilabae family thanked the RAMSI leaders and the Police Commissioner for attending the service and for the assistance they had provided for the funeral arrangements.

RAMSI provided transport and supplies for the hundreds of mourners attending the burial.

RAMSI Pacific Islands Contingent members also held a memorial service for the late Hilda Ilabae at RAMSI's headquarters on Sunday.

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