Honiara crashes will be probed, says Maue

National, Normal


FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Michael Maue said yesterday that the Foreign Affairs Department will investigate two separate road accidents involving PNG High Commission staff and vehicles in the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara.
Mr Maue said he had spoken to High Commissioner Aiwa Olmi about both accidents and vowed “that the department will get to the bottom of them”.
It is understood that Mr Olmi, PNG‘s former ambassador to Japan, who had just taken over from Parai Tamei, was involved in the first accident on Dec 4 while his deputy Peter Mirino was involved in a near-fatal crash last Saturday.
In both accidents, both vehicles were extensively damaged, according to reports in the Solomon Star newspaper. Mr Olmi uses an official vehicle.
Mr Maue said he had spoken to Mr Olmi to furnish an official report, adding it was unfortunate that diplomats were making headlines for the wrong reasons.
He said that two officers would travel to Honiara this weekend to investigate these accidents.
Official sources in Honiara said yesterday that Mr Olmi’s official vehicle, a Toyota Prado, would cost about K200,000 to repair.
The sources said that Mr Mirino had a previous confrontation with Honiara police while driving home three weeks ago and was pulled up.
“But realising that he was a diplomat they urged him to drive slowly and safely home.” 
They said he reacted aggressively but they could not arrest him because of his diplomatic immunity.
Mr Maue said these allegations would be checked thoroughly by the two officers from Port Moresby.
“The investigations will ensure that the truth is uncovered and appropriate action will be delivered in due course.”
He said he had ordered  the investigations because he agreed that the cases were serious as it involved diplomats and State assets.
“I sincerely regret what has happened but we got to have evidence before we take disciplinary or any other measures,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s department said the proper process is for the department and the minister to institute any recall if need be and not the PM “necessarily, at this stage”.
The Honiara High Commission, particularly its vehicles, have been plagued by controversy since the end of Mr Tamei’s tour of duty last year.
In one instance, according to the Solomon Star, an angry Solomon Islands woman smashed the left windscreen of the official car at the Honiara Golf Club while Mr Tamei was inside the clubhouse.
Days earlier, another woman died in his company while they were travelling in the vehicle although a police investigation into the death cleared Mr Tamei of any wrongdoing.