Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Madang businesswoman Catherine Mal and family guilty of murder


Madang businesswoman Catherine Mal, her son and his two cousins have been found guilty of murder, marking the end of a two-year court case, The National reports.
There was no show of remorse when the decision was handed down yesterday before a packed courtroom by judge David Cannings.
He said based on written and pictorial evidences, and oral evidence of Wetei Gumari, six state witnesses and one independent witness, he found enough reason to convict the four.
The defence’s  argument that the Sakel fa­mily stood to gain land if the mother and son were put away thereby all aligned to the Sakel family would have motives to lie, was seen as a valid submission.
“The court must be cautious in a case such as this where diametrically different versions of events are given by different groups of witnesses, in identifying what interests each group has in the outcome of the case,’’ Cannings said.
“Certainly it would be in the interest of the Sakel family, in terms of their land dispute to see the Mal family disadvantaged by having the influence of their leader, Catherine, lessened or neutralised by seeing her serve a prison sentence.”
He also stressed that the accused also had motives to lie and that would be to avoid conviction.
 Cannings found that on Feb 28, 2009, an argument which started at the 4-Mile market between male members of the two families ended up in a fight at the junction leading to Yagaum and 10-Mile.
The court found that during the fight, a Daga Nanas was killed after being hit on the back of the head by Emmanuel Ong (Catherine’s son) and again on the side of his jaw with a three cornered iron rod.
Keith Mal was the one who pushed a knife into the Nanas’ mouth and twisted it, cutting the tongue, gums and causing a number of teeth to fall out.
Keith is yet to be found for questioning.
The court found that Seth Mal shot Nanas in the eyebrow with a slingshot at close range, Onen Mal hit him in the stomach with a shade tree branch causing blood to come out of his mouth and nose and Catherine who urged on her group of relatives by shouting “kill him”.
Medical evidence in court show that Nanas died as a result of “compound fractures of the mandible and maxilla causing asphyxiation”.
The four members of the Mal family were hugging and crying with family members and friends yesterday afternoon after being told that they would go to Beon.
They will be sentenced on Dec 5

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