The Solomon Islands Police Commissioner, Jahir Khan, is claimed to have intervened in an attempt by Honiara Police to arrest and charge Commerce and Employment Minister, Peter Shanel.Mr. Shanel was reported to have allegedly attacked a young man, who comes from the Lord Howe settlement, outside the National Referral Hospital after an argument.
National Express reports that Minister Shanel was arrested late last week by Honiara Police with intentions of laying charges against him. However, the Police Commissioner Khan allegedly intervened and ordered police to release the Minister with no charges against him.
An agitated Mr. Khan, when contacted by telephone, demanded National Express to reveal their source, but later confirmed that Honiara Police "took in the Minister for questioning but released him without laying any charges against him". Commissioner Khan told the National Express that people who admitted to the media having done something does not mean they are guilty, adding police had to provide its own evidence before charging anybody in relation to any incident.
Minister Shanel, in an interview with the local newspaper Solomon Star, admitted to have attacked a man outside the National Referral Hospital to protect his wife, who was reportedly kicked on the legs by the man following an argument.
However, the man in a separate interview also with the Solomon Star claimed the argument with Mrs. Shanel started after she was involved in some loud exchange with hospital security guards.
Mrs. Shanel in a later issue of the Solomon Star however dispute claims of having been involved in arguments with hospital security guards, instead stating she was talking with another woman outside the National Referral Hospital car park when two men came and started to use abusive language against her.
Sources close to the police investigations stated that if Mr. Shanel had made the same admission given to Solomon Star when interviewed by police, "that provides clear grounds to arrest and charge the Minister".
The source went on to say that while the Minister can claim the right to defend himself, it is a serious matter when it comes to the use of a weapon that can cause serious harm to other people.