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Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2006, 08:18 GMT 09:18 UK
Solomon Islands PM offices raided
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Solomon Islands PM Manasseh Sogavare
PM Manasseh Sogavare is in dispute with Australia
Australian peacekeepers in the Solomon Islands have raided the office of the country's prime minister looking for evidence in a controversial sex case.

Witnesses say police officers forced their way in after kicking down a door, and seized a fax machine.

The Solomons government is accused by Australia of harbouring a prominent lawyer wanted on child abuse charges.

The raid is likely to further strain relations between Australia and its tiny South Pacific neighbour.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was not in his office during the raid, but one of his ministers was and said the police used "excessive force".

Officers have insisted they were simply executing a legitimate search warrant.

Diplomatic stand-off

Both governments have been locked in a dispute over Julian Moti, an Australian lawyer suspected of child abuse who was recently appointed attorney-general by Mr Sogavare.

The Solomon Islands is refusing to hand him over.

Mr Moti was arrested earlier this month on a trip to Papua New Guinea. He managed to escape back to the Solomon Islands before he could be extradited to Australia.

Investigators believe the fugitive lawyer may have been helped to flee by senior members of the Solomon Islands government in the capital Honiara.

International peacekeepers were sent to Honiara in April when violent disturbances again threatened the country's stability after years of ethnic fighting.

Mr Sogavare has threatened to expel Australian forces during this diplomatic stand-off.

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02 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific
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29 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
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18 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia issues Solomons threat
13 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific

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