Asian ring leader released
Sikua: Kingpin secretly met with politician
FRESH reports have emerged into the beche-de-mer saga that top government officials are holding ‘secret’ meetings with Asian kingpin Zhang Tong Zhi.
This paper was informed Mr Zhang has been released with no bail conditions by the High Court last week on Tuesday.
This was also confirmed by a spokesperson from the High Court registry office yesterday.
These fresh allegations have again forced the Opposition in accusing the government of trying to influence the current investigations that try to link Mr Tong Zhi with high profile politicians in the illegal beche-de-mer trade.
Opposition Leader Dr Derek Sikua yesterday released new developments into the saga claiming that his office was informed that a government MP held three separate secret meetings last week with Mr Tong Zhi and another Asian Patrick Chan.
Dr Sikua said the meetings were held at the residence of Mr Chan at King George on Wednesday 4th, Thursday 5th and Friday 6th of April between 9pm and 10 pm; just a day after Mr Tong Zhi was released.
“I understand that Mr Tong Zhi was released by the High Court with no bail conditions. It was unfortunate that the High Court did not consider the AG Chamber’s application not to release him.
“He is staying in the country illegally because his residence and work permit have been cancelled. Therefore he should not be staying anywhere outside of police detention with strict conditions so as not to allow him to be involved in any work or business activity,” the Opposition Leader said.
Attempts to speak with the Attorney General were unsuccessful yesterday.
The Solomon Star understands one of Mr Tong Zhi’s close associate Mr Chan was one of the Asian’s who was deported last month.
Mr Chan was understood to have returned to the country last week.
Dr Sikua in a statement yesterday confirmed Mr Chan was deported on the 3rd of March but returned on the 4th of April through Port Moresby.
Mr Chan was allegedly spotted at Henderson International Airport where Mr Tong Zhi allegedly whisked him away on arrival to his residence at King George.
The Opposition Leader said according to his understanding, Mr Chan holds a Solomon Islands passport but his name has not appeared in the citizenship register, which means he is not a registered Solomon Islands citizen.
“The citizenship commission has already provided a report to police declaring that Mr Chan is not a registered Solomon Islands citizen during its investigations last year and the police have since given its report to the Immigration Department; but his passport was not cancelled,” Dr Sikua said.
“The Director of Immigration has the power to cancel passports, so I question the positions of the Director of Immigration and the Minister for Immigration on this issue.”
Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader also alleged that a high-ranking police officer was also sighted at the Lord Howe settlement last Thursday.
The Opposition Leader alleged this same high-ranking officer has used the official letterhead of the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police to write a letter to the commandant of the Correctional Services to allow the wife of Mr Tong Zhi to visit her husband in prison.
“This is an abuse of office because the lawyer of Mr Tong Zhi should be writing such letter. This officer was also responsible for giving orders to release Mr Tong Zhi from custody at the Central Police station when he was arrested previously,” he said.
This paper had also made several attempts to talk to Mr Tong Zhi last week but was denied access by correctional services explaining that orders must come from either the director of immigration or the director of fisheries.
“These new developments further confirm that certain high ranking political figures and very senior police officers are involved in the illegal beche-de-mer trade and are actively at play to manipulate police investigation into the matter,” the Opposition Leader said.