Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rape, incest laws weak, says judge

A SENIOR judge yesterday expressed disappointment over the inadequate penalty for those found guilty of committing rape and incest, The National reports.

Waigani National Court’s Justice Panuel Mogish said such offences were serious and had carried a maximum penalty of life imprisonment but Parliament, in its own wisdom, cut it down to a maximum seven years.

“For Parliament to reduce the maximum penalty from life to seven years is a huge reduction. Incest is a very serious offence and I don’t know who advised Parliament at that time to adjust the level of penalty,” Mogish said.

He said numerous calls were made over the years for Parliament to review the penalty but to no avail.

Mogish said the calls for review “fell on deaf hears.”

“Parliament should read some court judgments on incest cases and make some changes on the level of penalty as the matter is serious,” the judge said.

He told state lawyers to ask the public solicitor to write to the justice minister and attorney-general on the matter.

Mogish raised the concern when lawyers made submissions on sentences on the matter of the state versus Chris Paru Bei.

Bei, 46, of Central’s Nabuapaka village in Kairuku, was found guilty of sexually assaulting his two biological daughters.

Bei was charged with two counts of rape and incest under section 223(1) and 229A (1) of the Criminal Code.

Bei assaulted one daughter on Sept 21 last year and the other on April 9, 2007.

Both girls were teenagers when they were abused.

Defence lawyers submitted that although Bei was found guilty, the matter was not serious because there was no evidence of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

They submitted that Bei was also a first-time offender and the court should impose a lesser penalty.

But state lawyers argued that there was a total breach of trust because the victims trusted the assailant who was their father.

They submitted that the matter was serious and Bei should be given the maximum sentence.

Mogish adjourned the matter to today for a ruling.

 

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