Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Police boss cracks whip

Officers implicated in student killing face suspension




POLICE officers implica­ted in the death of a Kokopo Business College student will be suspended pending an investigation, Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie said yesterday, The National reports.

He condemned the actions of a group of policemen who allegedly assaulted a final-year management student who died while in police custody.

Wagambie said if the reports into the alleged beatings and death were correct, “then the policemen responsible will be dealt with accordingly”.

“Nobody is above the law, even if they are police officers,” he said.

“Normal police investigations will follow and none of the officers responsible will walk away free.”

As he made his hard stance known, Acting Deputy Commissioner operations Fred Yakasa announced one policeman had been committed to stand trial and three others were facing charges in relation to the death of a man in custody in Kimbe, West New Britain, early this year leading to a riot in that town (story on page 3).

East New Britain provincial police commander Supt Sylvester Kalaut yesterday maintained, however, that he needed to have “concrete evidence” on the allegation that his officers were involved in the student’s death.

He said it was mere speculation by the community and the school administration to force an internal investigation on his officers.

Wagambie spoke out after a group of policemen from Kokopo, East New Britain, stormed the Kokopo Business College, fired tear gas, raided a male dormitory and assaulted students.

The officers allegedly beat up the final-year student, Stanis Jiki, in his dormitory and hauled him and three others to the police cells where Jiki was said to have died.

Wagambie said police were allowed to “use force”, when carrying out their duties, but the “nature of the situation” must justify the type of force used.

“I have not been formally briefed,” he said.

“But if it is true (killing), then, administrative procedures will apply.

“The officers implicated will be suspended automatically pending investigation.”

He said a similar case where police brutality had resulted in the death of a local youth in nearby Kimbe, West New Britain, had resulted in three police officers committed to stand trial.

He said another policeman in Port Moresby was last year sentenced to 22 years in jail for discharging a firearm in public and pointing a gun at members of the public even though he did not kill anyone.

Wagambie passed his condolences to the relatives of the deceased and appealed to the students not to take the law into their own hands.

His comments came as four male students from the Kokopo Business College appeared before the Kokopo District Court yesterday on charges of arson and damaging school property.

The students were all from Wosera in East Sepik. They were Winsaslaus Bagamu, a second-year student, Noel Wapikundi, Edward Jiriwahu and Bradley Wambi, all first-year students.

They were charged on Saturday under section 67, subsection 1A of the Criminal Code.

Their cases had been transferred to the Kerevat District Court and were remanded in custody at the Kerevat Correctional Services.

The four were refused police bail and had been ordered by magistrate Samuel Lavutul to file for bail application.

The burning down of the office administration building was in retaliation to the death of Jiki.

Kalaut yesterday said the school administration had complained that police officers had beaten up Jiki.

He confirmed that a post- mortem would be conducted on Jiki this week, once doctors at the Nonga Base Hospital morgue were ready.

It was understood that a protest march was being planned by KBC students and staff for today.

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