MT HAGEN CITY DETERIORATES

MT HAGEN, dubbed as the third city of PNG has deteriorated with huge crater like potholes in the city roads and uncontrolled littering.

There is literally no sign of any provincial authority on the ground to control and fix the worsening look of the city.
Crime rates have also accelerated and residents are in fear of moving around due to no police presence.

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The deteriorating roads in Mt Hagen City. 

A public servant and long time resident of Mt Hagen, Jack Pobia, said the current stage of the city is totally an eye sore for visitors and the travelling public.

“Mt Hagen is the centre of all the seven highlands provinces and used to be a very safe and conducive place to live back then but has fast become deteriorated with accelerating lawlessness,” Mr Pobia said.

He said one of the main reason is due to the failed LLG election that was declared in the Mt Hagen Urban Rural LLG in 2012.

“The Mt Hagen Urban LLG was the authority that looks after and maintains the affairs of the city but due to the failed LLG election declared by the Electoral Commission in 2012, there is no authority to manage the affairs of the city,” Mr Pobia added.

He also blamed the political leaders of the province for too much political infighting among themselves and failing to address the deteriorating state of the city.

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PNG Prisons in dire straits

PNG is likely to experience alot of prison breakouts in the near future if the management of the Correctional Institute Services  (CIS) and the government fail to adequately run the facilities. 

The recent mess breakout at the Bumio prison in Lae, Morobe Province, and the current situation of prisoners detained without food for almost a week at the Baisu prison in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands Province paints a bad image on prison operations throughout the country. 

Juvenile detainees at Baisu prison.

Baisu prison commander Timbi Kaugla spoke to News-Link PNG today highlighting challanges faced on daily operations of prison facilities and the lack of support from the CIS management over the years. 

Basing his concerns on shortage of food ration at the Baisu prison, Mr Kaugla said the CIS management failed to pay the company contracted to provide food supplies to the prison and therefore the company ceased supplying food since Friday, February 17. 

“We managed to provide food supply using our limited prison funds but fell short since Monday up until now.”

He addmited that the prisoners totaling more than 170 were detained without food since Monday.

“We begged the supplier to at least supply some food rations due to the situation we were facing but the supplier refused,” Mr Kaugla added.

Whisky Fresh Limited, the company contacted to supply food to the prison maintained that it won’t supply food until it’s dues are paid.

Managing Director of Whisky Fresh Ltd, Berry Maip, said he could no longer supply food ration to the prison because the CIS owned his company over K1 million.

“I have exhausted my own funds to supply food for the prison without being paid for almost three months now.”

“I cannot go on supplying food because I don’t have adequate funds to continue,”Mr Maip said.

He said the CIS owned him alot and it was their (CIS management) failure which had resulted in the current situation.

He called on the CIS management to address the situation promptly and pay up his dues for him to restore food supply to the prison.

Father wants justice for his daughter’s death

“My daughter, Ruby-Anne Laufa, died in a very violent and suspicious circumstance. I, my families and Ruby-Anne’s friends demand justice for her.  It is the duty of the police to assist in our demand for justice.”

Those are the words of the father of former Miss PNG, Late Ruby-Anne Laufa, who tragically died on Saturday, February 11, 2017.

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Late Ruby-Anne Laufa (right) and her dad Maurice A Laufa

The actual cause of her death has not been established as yet but police claim she died after jumping out of a moving vehicle allegedly driven by her boyfriend.

However, her father Maurice Andrew Laufa, who is a senior Lawyer and a Lecturer at the School of Law at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) raised concern that the cause of his daughter’s death was yet to be establish.

He blamed the police for failing to investigate the matter promptly to uncover the actual cause of his daughter’s death.

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Late Ruby-Anne Laufa

“I express serious concern about the questionable and apparent lack of urgency in police investigation into the tragic death of my daughter,” Mr Laufa said.

He said on the afternoon of Saturday, February 11, the suspect was detained at 4 mile traffic police station for about 4 hours and then released without any charge.

The police then recorded the cause of death as ‘suicide’ in the police occurrence book.

This did not go the well with Mr Laufa, who expressed dismay over the manner in which police was handing the matter.

“To date, 10 days after the tragic death of my daughter, the police have not spoken to any of the witnesses who volunteered their names and details, nor invited them to go to the police station to provide statements.”

“They never contacted me or my other daughter to provide statements concerning the circumstances leading up to the tragic death of my daughter Ruby-Anne.”

“The police have my contact details and know where I reside (UPNG Waigani Campus) but rather have submitted to reaction in their investigation,” a concerned Mr Laufa said in a press-statement.

“I believe that initial information available to police suggest that the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of my daugther is highly suspicious which should prompt any experienced and competent police officer to take proactive steps to conduct further enquiries and investigations into her death. In this case they have elected to wait,” Mr Laufa further stated.

He said as a senior lawyer, he always believed, trusted and confided in the integrity, fairness, honesty and competence of the nation’s criminal justice system – including police criminal investigations.

However, he said his belief, trust and confidence in the criminal justice system – specifically police criminal investigations, was tested in the 10 days since the passing of her beloved daughter.

MP assault young lawyer

A young lawyer has alleged that he was physcally  assaulted by a member of Parliament. 

Lawyer Laken Lepatu claimed that he was confronted and punched on the face by Wabag Open MP Robert Ganim at a bus stop near Wabag Town on Thursday, February 16.

Lawyer Laken Lepatu

Wabag MP Robert Ganim

Lepatu claimed in his social media post that he was carrying out awareness on election in the Highlands to educate the people when he was assaulted by the particular MP. 

“MP for Wabag Open Mr. Robert Ganim punched me and I threw him into Wabag Police Cells but the police station commander released him,” Lapatu said in his post.

“I parked my vehicle at Wabag Town (Porgera Bus-Stop) & MP Ganim parked his vehicle opposite me. 

“Mr Ganim shouted at me and asked me why I was conducting awareness campaign which I politely replied to him that if he thinks I breached a law(s), we should sort it out at the Police Station,” Lepatu stated.

He said the MP  without paying attention, shouted the same words twice, stepped out of his vehicle & ran towards him. 

Lepatu further claimed that three of the MP’s boys armed with bush knives followed the MP and confronted him face to face with swearing words and the MP punched him on the face. 

“His boys almost murdered me but the public stopped them. 

“Ganim and his boys then got into their vehicle fled,” Lepatu stated.

He further stated that he drove to the police station and placed a formal complaint against the MP for police to arrest the MP.

 “When I stepped out of the police station, I saw Mr. Ganim parked his vehicle and stepped out.

“I quickly grabbed his hand and dragged him into the police cells and ordered the police officers there to arrest him but the police station commander refused and released the MP,” Lepatu stated.

Lepatu who recently assisted students with free legal assistance and won several cases stammed from the UPNG student and police standoff last year said he will pursue the matter  until justice is done.

“I will continue my awareness campaign until I complete Enga. The Constitution provides for freedom of speech, association, thought, beliefs & religion. This is a democratic nation, a free world,” Lepatu stated.

Several attempts to get the MP to comment failed. 

Police deployed to Goodenough Island to find armed pirates

POLICE have been sent to Goodenough Island to find armed men who tried to rob people at sea last week in Milne Bay, The National reports. 
Provincial police commander Chief Superintendent Joseph Morehari said 12 armed pirates in two dinghies tried to rob the passengers near the Bolubolu station. He did not give any further details.

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But sources said the pirates were based at Kilia ward near Bolubolu.
They target people travelling from Bolubolu to the Diodio Catholic church parish, or Ferguson island.
It is believed that two of the men were from Goodenough while the others from elsewhere. Two are reported to be former military officers who were pretending to be security guards for a local MP.  “They were pretending to be security guards for the MP and parliament officials when they were at Lawela Primary School on October 1,” a source said.
“But the pirates were there to monitor if the MP had brought money to deliver to the people. They would have robbed the recipients once the MP had left.”
The armed thugs had been terrorising people travelling in boats in waters between Goodenough, Ferguson and the mainland.

Court suspends jail terms for teenagers

FOUR teenagers were told by a judge how they would destroy their lives by going to prison when he suspended their two-year jail term for robbery.
The National newspaper today reported that the teenagers had been in custody for more than a year and nine months.
“When you go to jail, you destroy your life especially when you are a young man and still in school,” Waigani National Court judge Justice George Manuhu told Jonny Bare (Chimbu), Lukail Joel (Southern Highlands) and Bonny Mavoko and Jethro Peter (Eastern Highlands) yesterday.

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Waigani National and Supreme Court.

Justice Manuhu made the comments when he found them guilty of armed robbery of three women at the Kone Tigers Oval along a shortcut road leading to the Morata bus stop in Port Moresby last year.
“Stealing from others and receiving stolen property is not a good thing and it’s not a good crime as you have discovered. Many of you come to court and show that you are harmless but when you are outside, you become very violent by stealing from others and threatening them with very offensive weapons,” Justice Manuhu said.
He told the four that he hoped they were not pretending in court and it was up to them to be honest to themselves and be good. “The country is fed up of the type of crime all of you have committed and you all should be in harmony with each other. We should have respect of the female population because they are the same as our mothers and sisters.”
Justice Manuhu said he hoped Bare, Joel, Mavoko and Peter were genuine in their allocutus that they had learnt their lessons while in custody.
Justice Manuhu said if it was not genuine, they might appear in court again and he warned them that the penalty would not be the same.
The court sentenced them to two years imprisonment but suspended the sentence because they had served one year, nine months and a week in custody and discharged them.
Bare, Joel, Mavoko and Peter allegedly on Jan 5 last year held up Belinda, Molinda Dongme and Miriam Songa at gunpoint and stole properties including mobile phones, bankcards and K313.
It was also alleged that at the time the offence was committed, Bare was 18 years old and in Grade 8 at the Waigani Primary School, Joel, 16 and in Grade 6 at Morata Primary School, Mavoko, 18, but without formal education and Peter,  16 and Grade 4 at Boreboa Primary School.

Jiwaka police uproot marijuana plants

POLICE in Jiwaka Province have uprooted a marijuana garden near a primary school, the Post-Courier reports.

Members of the Kudjip based Highway Patrol 4 raided a location next to the Papen Primary School near Kindeng and uprooted the illicit plants.

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The Police mobile unit with the marijuana plants they uprooted.

The policemen said it was a disgrace to see marijuana plants growing next to the primary school and exposed to the students.

They appealed to the surrounding people living near all the schools in the area not to cultivate such illegal drags as it would only affect their communities.

The policemen destroyed the marijuana and dump them at the nearby River Tuman

Woman accused of killing lover freed

A WOMAN of dual Papua New Guinean and Australian citizenship found guilty by the National Court of murdering her lover, British yachtsman John Hulse, was yesterday set free by the Supreme Court in Port Moresby.

According to Post-Courier report, Taita Pritchard, who was brought to the Waigani Court House from Bomana jail, broke down in tears when the court told her she was acquitted of the murder verdict and the 30-years prison term handed by Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika at the National Court.

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Waigani National and Supreme Court

She was convicted on a charge of willful murder in February along with her cousin James Paru, a former soldier. Paru received the same prison term.

She then filed this appeal alleging the evidence used to convict her was inadmissible and that she was denied an allocutus.

The bench comprising Justices Les Gavara-Nanu, Derek Hartshorn and Terence Higgins acquitted Pritchard on grounds that the evidence used to convict her were inadmissible and she was never administered an allocutus. The evidence in question is a confessional statement by Paru.

An allocutus is a formal statement made to court by the defendant who has been found guilty prior to being sentenced.

It is compulsory and it allows the defendant to explain why the sentence should be lenient.

In its ruling the bench said the decision was reached by Sir Gibbs from the confessional statement “…. it has no evidentiary value of weight against the appellant (Pritchard).”

The court said this is because Paru’s statement was never corroborated.

It further stated, “Even if such evidence (Paru’s statement) had been in admissible form, the trial judge would have needed to warn himself that such evidence should not be used against an accused unless corroborated.”

In terms of being denied allocutus, the prosecution agreed that Pritchard was not administered any submission on sentence and conceded to Pritchard’s appeal for sentencing be suspended.

Lae Biscute company boss convicted

BY FRANKIY KAPIN____

IAN Chow, the managing director of Lae Biscuit Company, has been convicted of smuggling into the country firearm parts and accessories undeclared by Papua New Guinea Customs Service.

Lae District Court magistrate Jeremiah Singomat imposed a K25,000 fine on Mr Chow after finding him guilty of which he has paid, according to his lawyers.

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Ian Chow

The undeclared goods confiscated by the Customs include empty ammunition shells, live bullets and gunpowder shipped into Lae four years ago, on April 14, 2012.

In sentencing Mr Chow last month, Mr Singomat indicated that the defendant had shipped a container (identified) under his name containing items which he failed to declare with Customs.

Mr Singomat also stated that the defendant had cooperated with the Customs officials leading to him being charged with smuggling undeclared items, contrary to section 149 (1) of the Customs Act 101.

He also indicated that the lawyer for the defendant entered a guilty plea and made submissions on sentence.

Mr Singomat said the early plea amounts to mitigation and it was also the view of the court that the defendant had not done wrong in the law by mistake.

“He is an educated person, had been in the country as a citizen and had imported items as a nature of his family business many times before the date he committed this particular criminal act in 2012. More importantly, the defendant has the knowledge of the Customs laws of the country,” Mr Singomat said.

In pleading guilty to the smuggling charge Mr Chow had admitted reckless wrongdoing by trying to short cut the process and not completing the importation documentation.

He said he did it because his house had been destroyed by fire and the Lae shooting club under his presidency needed the ammunition.

Mr Chow indicated that the case had resulted in his employment being terminated and leaving him in exile in Thailand for the last four years.

He returned to PNG in August and presented himself to relevant authorities to be indicted accordingly.

Convicted rapist and murderer on death row escapes prison

A DEATH row inmate convicted of raping a married woman in front of her two-year-old daughter and then using an iron bar to beat them to death has escaped from custody.

The Post-Courier reported today that the convict, Ben Simakot Simbu, 31, from Yangkok in West Sepik Province was convicted of willfully murdering Wupiano and Francisca Menapol at their home in Vanimo in 2002 after Wupiano had refused to give him a live chicken on credit.

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He was sentenced in March 2004 by Justice Ambeng Kandakasi.

He has been serving time at Bomana jail, outside Port Moresby, and escaped last Monday while visiting Port Moresby General Hospital’s eye clinic.

The prison’s commanding officer Haraha Keko is appealing to the public to report to his office if they know of the fugitive’s whereabouts.

Simakot becomes fugitive number 209 who has escaped from jail and is on the run. “A search was launched right after my office was notified of the escape. All known contacts including the police have been alerted.

“My management and I would really appreciate if the public can assist in his quick apprehension.”

Mr Keko said that the Bomana clinics can only cater for minor medical cases, thus, Simbu was allowed out to receive treatment at Port Moresby General Hospital.

“We do not have a qualified medical practitioner employed on site to do assessments prior to referrals. In this case a medical leave of absence was accorded.

“Most escapees run away while visiting PMGH. It is the prime responsibility of the escorting officer to keep close watch,” he said.

On Monday, Aipit Balos, a Bomana jail escapee who had been on the run for 23 years, surrendered to Correctional Services officers.

Like Simakot, Balos, a convicted murderer, had escaped while a tuberculosis patient at Port Moresby General Hospital.

Another death row convict is also still on the run.

He is Kepak Langa of Sangurap in Wabag, Enga Province, who has been on the run since he and 29 others escaped from Baisu jail in Western Highlands Province on January 1 last year.

Correctional Services Commissioner Andrew Waipo could not be contacted yesterday for comment.

Others on death row in various jails in PNG are Gregory Klapkot, 41, Lokanai, New Ireland, murder and sea piracy, convicted July 2011, Martin Pigi, 39, New Ireland Province, murder and sea piracy, convicted July 2011, Peter Taul, 39, Pilapila, East New Britain, murder and sea piracy, convicted July 2011, Ambose Lati, 49, Wabag, Enga Province, murder, convicted 2009, Tobung Paraide, 43, Pilapila, East New Britain, murder and sea piracy, July 2011, Bochea Agena, 44, Duke of York Islands, East New Britain, murder and sea piracy, July 2011, Kenny Wesley, 38, Duke of York Islands, murder and sea piracy, July 2011, Sedoki Lota, 21, Milne Bay, murder, 2007; Selman Amos, 64, Kait, Konoagil, New Ireland, murder; Misialis Amos, Kait, Konoagil, murder; Mark Poroll, 33, Koroba, Southern Highlands, murder.

Early this year, Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika imposed the death penalty on Keith Lasi Aira for the hacking to death of four Chinese nationals in Port Moresby in 2013.