Friday, 2 November 2007 9:45 AM

RAMSI Investigating Incident in Malu'u

RAMSI's military contingent is conducting an investigation into events last week involving a platoon of Tongan soldiers on patrol in North Malaita.

The events in question took place after the soldiers had been involved in assisting in the arrest of several local youths who had been wanted by police for sometime.

Following this, the soldiers had had rocks thrown on their camp, culminating in an attempt to break into the camp last Tuesday 23 October, which was intercepted by the soldiers.

RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George, said all members of the Regional Assistance Mission were required to respect Solomon Islands law.

"RAMSI takes any allegation of misconduct very seriously and would investigate the matter thoroughly and in a transparent manner," he said.

RAMSI's Military Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Ian Upjohn, said that RAMSI's military has always enjoyed a good relationship with the community in Solomon Islands.

"We are very proud of the fact that 1000s of soldiers from five different countries have served under RAMSI over the past four years without any serious incident."

"These men are committed, they leave their families to service in RAMSI and are sometimes required to work in very difficult circumstances."

Lieutenant Colonel Upjohn said after disturbing the intruders at their camp, the soldiers had recovered a bag containing a number of potentially lethal weapons.

"The bag contained a small axe, a bush knife and sharpened metal stake, although there were no firearms," he said.

"Following this hostile act, the commander on the ground reported the incident to the police, handed the weapons in properly and decided to conduct a patrol," he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Upjohn said the RAMSI military is firm but fair and its members are subject to very strict rules of engagement and a disciplinary code.

"We are now investigating the matter and if any misconduct is found, then the appropriate action will be taken," he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Upjohn said he was also awaiting the outcome of the investigation now being carried out by the Solomon Islands Police Force.

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