NINE Bougainvilleans accused of illegally crossing into the Solomon Islands and their local accomplice have been fined a total of $SI25,000 (K15,000).
Acting deputy chief magistrate Shepherd Lapo also made orders that the Papua New Guinea citizens be deported.
They had been staying with Solomon Islander John Nauva of Shortland Islands since their illegal entry.
Mr Lapo imposed the fines yesterday after taking into consideration the daily fines imposed by the director of immigration in the Solomon Islands. The daily fine amounted to $US20 from September 24. "In my view, the element of public deterrence is important in that if a similar situation should arise the foreigner must remember that anyone involved in breaking the law must expect to pay high fines or go to prison for a long time.
"Therefore, he or she must think twice about breaking the law," he said in his ruling. Sylvester Motoqo, Vincent Ma’ako, Justin Moiru, Eddie Posena, Joe Nupa, Nigel Tonnaku, Thomas Konnou, Dominic Samo, Tom Ruben have paid various fines from $3956 to $150.
This was after pleading guilty to the charge of unlawful presence in the country.
Nauva, who pleaded guilty to harbouring unlawful non-citizens, was fined $3000.
The accused were working as security officers for the Trijian Logging Company Mono Islands in Shortland Islands between September 4 and 24. The court was told that the men were arrested on September 24 in a joint operation by the Solomon Islands Police and their PNG counterpart as well as immigration forestry officials.
Public Prosecutor Ishmael Kekou submitted that the Solomons must impose severe penalties which would deter foreigners from illegally entering the country to look for work.
Mr Makario Tagini, who represented all Bougainvilleans, asked for a lighter penalty because of the bilateral ties between the two countries. It was also submitted that Nauva was related to the nine accused because his father was from Bougainville and therefore has social obligation to accommodate them. Mr Lapo however, told accused and Nauva: "Harbouring non-citizens is serious.
"You have illegal entered and employed yourself as a security officer of the Trijian Logging Company at Mono Island without obtaining the lawful visa from the Immigration Authority," Mr Lopo said.
"The law does recognise the traditional ties and cultural movement but it does not extend to entering and seeking employment in the Solomon Islands."