The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force has refuted media reports that its officers stole personal belongings from the 29 Bougainvilleans who were taken into custody last week near Vella Lavella island, Western Province.
Assistant Commissioner, National Operations Mostyn Mangau, who was the overall commander of the operation, said the reports are false.
He said when police arrested the men, they found two axes, two knives and two sea knives in their boats, which were confiscated and not returned.
Police further searched the men’s belongings when they arrived at the Gizo Police Station. All items were recorded and later released to the men after an immigration officer interviewed them.
Mr Mangau said when the men escaped they left behind their personal belongings, but they were later given to the nine men who surrendered to police.
“As overall commander of the operation in Gizo, I am under no doubt that my officers acted professionally when dealing with the issue of the personal belongings of the Bougainvillean men as all the items were recorded during the search of their personal belongings,” he said.