THE sister of the man police recently arrested for allegedly burning down a police boat in Makira/Ulawa Province is accusing police of mishandling her brother during the arrest.
Speaking to the Solomon Star via a mobile phone from Makira, Everlyn Kahia said she witnessed the injuries on her brother’s (Solomon Bea) face when police brought him over to provincial capital Kirakira.
“I raise this concern in the media for future improvement in the conduct of police officers when dealing with mentally affected law breakers,” Ms Kahia said.
“Silence breeds corrupt practices within the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF),” she added.
The burning of the police boat occurred on June 6 at Karie village in Wainoni.
A joint operation comprising of RSIPF Police Response Team (PRT), Maritime Unit and police at Kirakira arrested the 40-year-old suspect on the early hours of July 5 at Nakuhu village.
Ms Kahia said the start of the incident was in relation to a Chainsaw last month at Maniono.
She said one of their cousin brothers borrowed a chainsaw from them to cut some timbers for the church.
“During that time, some people stole a Chainsaw belonging to a logging company in the next village.
“The suspect was already arrested and held at Kirakira police station,” Ms Kahia said.
She added that police followed up on the whereabouts of the Chainsaw and ended up at their village.
“They took the chainsaw from my cousin brother thinking that it was the stolen chainsaw.
“In spite of the fact that my brother telling the officers, it was the wrong Chainsaw, they would not listen and took the Chainsaw to the logging camp.
“But those people at the logging camp however told the police, that was not their stolen Chainsaw.
“The police however, instead of returning the Chainsaw to us took the Chainsaw back to Kirakira with them.
“That Chainsaw is still with the police in Kirakira.
“My younger brother, Solomon, is a psychiatric patient since 1986,” Ms Kahia explained.
She said her brother Solomon has his reasons for burning the police boat because he was not happy with the police.
Ms Kahia added that her brother was not normal and has his reasons to burn the police boat.
“Solomon has a civil case, in which, someone killed his pig and when he reported this matter to the police, nothing was done.”
She said Solomon then lodged a civil case where the court then ordered the police to assist in returning the pig.
Ms Kahia expressed her disappointment at how police approached her brother and “bashed him up”.
She said police officers (relatives) who first went to their village to negotiate with Solomon did not consult with the chiefs, church leaders and her brother Solomon.
“They should do the consultation first and give their report because he is not a normal person.
“I see those police officers (relatives) who are involved in the arrest as fighting for promotion.
“They came without realising the approach they did to a psychiatric person is inhuman and not proper.”
Ms Kahia said she eye-witnessed when police arrived with her brother in a patrol boat at the Kirakira sea front.
“There was a crowd of people standing there and people are trying to take photos with their mobile phones when police are escorting Solomon.
“Police however, snatched their phones and chased those people away.
“They are trying to hide the truth because they don’t want people to see the injuries on my brother’s face.
“I cried when I saw the injuries on my brother’s face.”
Ms Kahia said she wants those officers who caused injuries to the psychiatric person to be held responsible for what they have done.
“They are the custodians of law and should be responsible for the enforcement of law and order in this country.
“Where does the Family Protection Act come in here and also the much talked about community policing?
“The community policing approach should be done in the first instance involving church leaders, village elders, chiefs, medical practitioners and the RSIPF,” Ms Kahia added.
She said at the end of the day, she hopes that by raising this issue in the media, it should help prevent such ill-treatment to psychiatric persons.
“They should be treated differently from normal human beings because of their different nature.”
She then called on the police commissioner to consider moving officers to different police stations in the country from time to time.
“Police officers being posted too long in Makira have proved stagnant and should be posted to other police stations throughout the country where new environment, new challenges and new community interactions might make them active again.”
When contacted, police in Honiara denied any ill-treatment to the accused.
“The suspect has not received any injuries in relation to the arrest, neither other parts of his body as claimed by relatives,” police said in a statement to the Solomon Star.
“The suspect was charged with arson and later remanded at the Kirakira Correctional Centre for the next 14 days as the police investigation continues.”
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN