Police Commissioner Matthew Varley has made clarifications on the current situation on the escape of the 29 Bouganvillieans from Gizo Police custody Wednesday.
Mr Varley told journalists, the situation was under control and that there was no indication that the men pose any risk to the safety of Gizo residents.
He said police plans to locate the men and put them in immigration custody, so that they can safely return home.
He believed the men are still in Gizo but there are rumors that the men had already left the island.
Mr Varley clarified the reason why the men entered Solomon Waters was related to the death of a Shortland and Bouganville man on the 6th of Feb, who is related to the Twenty-nine men.
He said the men were driven by suspicions in their community that the man died under suspicious circumstances, and were allegedly heading to Gizo and Noro to claim compensation from the provincial government over the death.
Mr Varley disputes rumours of foul play, and that police conducted thorough investigation and concluded that the deceased’s death was accidental.
He said they are also working with community leaders in the western province and Bougainville police to locate and bring the men home.
He said prior to the men’s escape , policewere planning to organize negotiations between chiefs of Gizo and Noro with the men, to discuss issues surrounding the death of their relative, and also dealing with their immigration issue.
Mr Varley assured the people of Gizo that the situation is safe and there is no risks to their security and safety.
“Whilst police and the government of Solomon Islands understands and respects the traditional area between Bouganville and Solomon Islands, it is improtant to remember that there are number of rules and limitations governing that space,” he said.
” There is no permission for people to breach further into Solomon islands territorial waters as this group did, and it it is important to remember that the RSIPF has an obligation to ensure the safety of our community and upholding our immigration laws.”
In relation to how the men escaped under police hands, Mr Varley said they were already carrying out an investigation to determine what happened.
He said two officers from the police professional standard and internal investigations team are now in Gizo to conduct an inquire on how the men escaped.
“At this stage those inquiries are in a early stage, and its too early for me to make decisions on what happened,” he said.
“Our number one priority at the moment is the successful location of the men and the safety of the community.”
Mr Varley said the police accepts responsibility for the escape and will make sure the situation returns to normal.
He said people in the Gizo area should come forward to police with any information relating to the location of the men.
By: Lowen Sei.