The National – Thursday, June 23, 2011
By ALISON ANIS
CORRECTIONAL Services Commissioner Richard Sikani says the “self-loading semi-automatic rifle (AR) 15” he was referring to in letters sent to Ombudsman Commissioner John Nero is a military term he used to describe legal documents or court papers.
“What I meant was that all the court papers are ready and pointing at him (Nero) and that my lawyer and myself will be using them to sue him in time,” Sikani said yesterday after admitting he did write the two letters to Nero.
In a press release on Tuesday, Nero claimed Sikani had twice written to him and threatened to shoot him with a semi-automatic rifle over his announcement of Sikani’s referral to the public prosecutor over alleged misconduct in office in 2009.
Sikani, in his letter on April 6, stated: “More missiles loaded in the AR15 semi-automatic rifle still remaining in the chamber will be firing at you” and on May 28 wrote: “I have already informed you that more bullets have been loaded in the chamber of the self-loading AR15 for rapid firing at you as a person continuously”.
“These are military terms I used as a military man to describe the legal setting and I think he (Nero) took it the wrong way,” he said.
“I used the word rifle to mean that court papers that will be firing at him.
“It is not my intention to gun him down because all I am interested in is suing him,” Sikani said.
Nero argued the letter , which was dropped at his office and marked “private and confidential”, was sent as a threat and Sikani was abusing his power and office to make such threats.
“It must not be taken as a joke because you do not know how the public will interpret that. The moment you mention a semi-automatic rifle, it is serious matter,” he said.
“I disagree that it is a military term used by military personnel to describe legal procedures.”
Sikani said Nero’s statements in the media were sensationalised and that he was begging for public sympathy because “he will be served with a personal private lawsuit” and denied any alleged misconduct in office.
He claimed Nero had collaborated with a correctional officer to defame and character assassinate him by making damaging statements against him in media in 2009.
Sikani has sought a review of the matter with the National Court and was granted an ex parte review last March 11.
The substantive review is yet to be argued and he has obligations to comply with the National Court rules.
Nero said, as a senior member of the Ombudsman, it was his prerogative to expose any kind threats made to the commission to dispel further threats to members of the commission.
“These threats must be exposed, if we hide, they will grow and how do you expect public officials to discharge their duties under such threats?”
Acting Deputy Police Commissioner of operations Fred Yakasa confirmed receiving complaints on the matter and police are investigating.
Meanwhile, Deputy Opposition leader Sam Basil said it was regrettable that a senior government officer had threatened the ombudsman commissioner.
He said Sikani’s threat “must not be taken lightly because he is a custodian of a very important institution that handles high risks prisoners and high-powered firearms and ammunition”.
Basil called on Internal Security Minister Mark Maipakai to instruct the police commissioner to act as soon as possible.
He commended Nero for coming out to publicly expose such threat.
“There will always be reactions, especially from high profile people who are often referred for investigation by the Ombudsman Commission.
“They will collaborate with each other, bribe their way out or use threats to stop investigators doing their jobs.
“It is about time these kinds of people are exposed and charged appropriately under our laws,” Basil said.