Wednesday, 10 June 2009 1:48 PM

Prime Minister Denies Helping Wanted Man

Prime Minister, Dr Derek Sikua, categorically denies having advised escapees, Stanley Gitoa and William Manedetea to stay away from law enforcement authorities.

Dr Sikua was responding to allegations made by Gitoa that Dr Sikua, when he was Minister for Education in 2007, had advised him and his colleague escapee William Manedetea not to voluntarily surrender to law enforcement authorities.

Speaking to SIBC news in an interview at the Guadalcanal Plains last month, Gitoa had claimed that Dr Sikua had supported them with food and money when they met with him.

The escapee said he was "surprised with fresh calls by Prime Minister Sikua for his voluntary surrender to authorities."

Prime Minister Dr Derek Sikua admits meeting Gitoa and William Manedetea at his home village in Tasimboko at the request of the two after their escape from Police custody in 2007.

Dr Sikua also admits assisting both men with some money and food but said it was done purely "on humanitarian grounds."

However, the Prime Minister says he did not advise Gitoa and Manedetea to stay away from law enforcement authorities.

On the contrary, Dr Sikua says he clearly recalls having told the two men to come forward and surrender to police and prison service authorities, and as their parliamentary representative, he would be obliged to look after the welfare of their families in their absence.

Gitoa, a Guadalcanal man wanted by police, escaped from police custody in 2007 after he was charged with various crimes including alleged murder and rape.

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