The Governor General, Sir Nathanial Waena, yesterday pardoned a lifetime prisoner for his crime.Mr. Fred Maniau had been found guilty of murder by the High Court of Solomon Islands and was sentenced to life imprisonment on the 10th of March, 1987. Mr. Maniau, 52, had served 19 years in prison in what he describes as the "lowest point in my life."
He then applied for pardon and was considered and accepted by the Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy during a meeting on 28th of February, 2007.
Speaking during the short ceremony yesterday morning, His Excellency, the Governor General Sir Nathaniel Waena said, "In accordance with the recommendation of the said committee on the Prerogative of Mercy, and in exercise of the powers conferred upon me by section 45 of the Constitution, I grant you a free pardon on the 10th of April, 2007." With those few words, Mr. Maniau was a free man.
Formally presenting a free pardon instrument to Mr. Maniau, Sir. Waena said that it certifies that he has been pardoned of the crime he had committed.
Speaking to Solomon Times, Mr. Maniau said that life imprisonment was difficult to describe. "Words cannot express what it is like."
He said that he lost everything when he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He adds, "It is very hard to face such a thing because I lost my family, my job, every good opportunity of time to spend with people I love."
Mr. Maniau, from North Malaita, stated that his wife was 23 years of age when he was sent to prison. "And my daughter was at the age of 6 and now I am old. I regret everything I should do with my family the past 19 years," he added. He said he could not change a past that he greatly regrets, but he looks to the future with hope for him and his family.
Mr. Maniau also said that life became meaningless for him.
"But then I became freed through God's grace...I will look at rebuilding what I lost with my family and people," he added.
He encouraged Solomon Islanders to be honest and truthful to themselves and to others. He said in that way, one will always avoid the temptation of crime. "Life without crime is fulfilling...live happy with whatever you have or do."
Mr. Maniau told Solomon Times that freedom is everything.
"Freedom is worth much more than gold and silver so keep your freedom and live without crime...it is only when you lose that freedom will you know how valuable it is."