A MAN accused of the Mbike Island resort shooting has been released on bail yesterday in the Honiara Magistrates’ Court.
Jim Aita was released on a cash bail of $5,000 and that his surety is required to pay $5,000 cash as well.
Acting Deputy Chief Magistrate Jim Seuika also imposed strict bail conditions on the accused.
Aita is required to report to Naha Police Station three times a week, he is not allowed to travel out of Honiara town boundary without the court’s permission, not to interfere with police witnesses and is required to attend court on the next hearing date, which is on February 27.
The bail application for Aita was made on Thursday during which the prosecution objected to it.
But Mr Seuika ruled in favour of the application.
Aita is facing three counts of attempted murder, one count of wilful and unlawful damage to property, one count of attempt to destroy property by explosives, one count of possess firearm without firearm licence, one count of possess of ammunition without firearm licence, discharging firearm in public and one count of arson.
These were in relation to the 9 December 2014 shooting at Mbike Island resort on Gela.
Police alleged Aita was the skipper of the outboard motor canoe used during that shooting.
Aita was also accused of firing a gun at the boat used to transport 17 MPs to the Mbike island resort earlier in the day.
It was alleged that between 2 am and 3am December 2014, a group of armed men arrived at the resort in a fibreglass boat with firearms and discriminately fired at Sun Express boat and towards the resort.
On the afternoon of that day, a boat operating under the Breakwater Cafe in Honiara know as Sun Express, transported 17 Member of Parliament (MPs) to Mbike Island.
The MPs were out on a retreat ahead of the prime minister’s election the next day.
It was alleged that soon after the gun firing, the armed men, including Aita, poured petrol at the back of Sun Express before setting it alight.
But the fire flame however returned to their boat from the poured fuel.
Out of fear and danger, the men allegedly threw out two filled containers of fuel into the sea and quickly fled the scene.
It was revealed the crew members of Sun Express boat swiftly attended to their boat and put off the fire just in time.
They inspected the fast craft and after realising it was still safe for travel, the MPs and others at the resort boarded it back to Honiara just in time to take part in the election.
Police alleged their investigation found Aita was the one who took charge of the boat for the mission and one who discharged the firearm.
He was also identified by a witness as the one who poured the containers of petrol inside the Sun Express boat before setting it alight.
Police also alleged Aita and his group fled Mbike Island back to Bare Foot, an island located in the Gela Group, which was also owned by the MP for North Malaita.
There, police alleged the group burned the outboard motor canoe they used in this mission for the purpose of concealing the identity of the boat, and its owner.
It was further alleged that on about 10am of December 9, Aita and other five suspects, whom police are yet to identify, were transported to Honiara on a private boat.
Aita denied any involvement when police interviewed him.
Police believed the motive for the shooting was to destroy Sun Express and stopped it from returning the MPs back to Honiara in time for the election.
At that time, the battle between the two groups vying to form the next government was fierce.
MPs who were targeted in this incident returned in time to elect their candidate, Manasseh Sogavare, to be the next prime minister.
Maelyn Bird of Bird & Hiele Legal Service is representing Aita.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN