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Aust claims backed over Sogavare motive

Published: 1:45PM Monday September 18, 2006 Source: AAP

Solomon Islands' prime minister Manasseh Sogavare initiated an inquiry into the Honiara riots to halt police investigations into two colleagues accused of inciting
the unrest, according to a leaked cabinet submission.

The submission by Sogavare, reported by the Solomons Star on Monday, stated the aim of two terms of reference for the commission of inquiry was to ensure the police investigations into his colleagues, Charles Dausabea and Nelson Ne'e, were called off.

The two jailed MPs have been charged over the April riots.

The submission, signed on the back by Sogavare, supports Australian contentions that the aim of the inquiry was to get the two MPs off the hook and deflect attention onto Australian police commanders and their handling of the riots.

Sogavare has been engaged in a damaging diplomatic tiff with Canberra over his decision to expel Australian High Commissioner Patrick Cole whom he accuses of trying to derail the inquiry.

In a radio address on Sunday night, Sogavare said he had cancelled the appointment of embattled former Australian judge Marcus Einfeld to head the inquiry into the riots which destroyed most of Honiara's Chinatown.