Monday, July 20, 2009

Dad to hang

Adopted son’s murderer sentenced to death


By JAMES APA GUMUNO in The National, Papua New Guinea’s No. 1 daily newspaper


THE National Court has sentenced a man to death by hanging for killing his adopted son using a shotgun in Wabag five years ago.

Acting judge Justice Nemo Yalo handed down the ultimate penalty in Mt Hagen last


Ambrose Lati, a father of six from Keas village outside Wabag, was found guilty of wilful murder, under section 299 of Criminal Code Act, on March 26, 2009.

The court found that Lati killed his adopted son, Jumbo Lati, using a pump action shotgun on March 25, 2004, in Wabag town in order to take over his (deceased’s) house and land which Jumbo had inherited from his grandmother.

Jumbo was three months old when Lati and his wife Lucy adopted him. He was the son of Lina, the elder sister of Mrs Lati. They raised him together with their own five children.

Jumbo’s house and property, which he inherited, are located directly across Beat Street where his adopted father owns land and property, about 200m from the Wabag police station.

The court heard that on March 25, 2004, at about 4am, Jumbo and other neighbours were chasing some thieves who had attempted to steal a vehicle from a family in the neighbourhood.

Armed with a torch, Jumbo searched for the thieves near the Kop Creek which flows behind his house. He was worried the thieves might be hiding in his backyard.

He did not know that his adopted father was waiting for him, armed with a pump action shotgun. When Jumbo was about 15m away, Lati fired twice, but missed. The third shot, fired at point black range, killed Jumbo instantly.

Justice Yalo said this was a vicious and brutal killing where an adopted father had shown blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life.

He said he was mindful of the ever increasing community concerns about the prevalence of this particular nature of crime and their call to curb it.

He said such crime made society think that life had become so cheap, particularly in Enga province where there were more homicide offences as indicated by the records in the National Court’s registry.

He said the court was not swayed in any way in reaching the decision (on death penalty) by the recent media reports of the alleged killing of four children by their mother and the emotive public outburst that followed.

Justice Yalo said this case was decided on its merit.

He said that in this case, Lati’s pitiless and selfish economic interests had pushed him to the extent where he had shown no respect for the dignity and sanctity of the life of his adopted son.

He said the prisoner remained unremorseful for his crime, adding that crimes relating to economic interest occurring in other parts of the world like daring daylight bank robberies or hijacking of aircraft or kidnapping people for ransom had now landed in our country.

Justice Yalo said that Lati made a conscious decision to unlawfully take away the life of another fellow human being, which cannot be revived.

He said the crime not only breached section 299 of the Criminal Code, it was also a serious and flagrant breach of section 35 of the Constitution, where the right to life is provided for and protected.

“I am satisfied that the degree of moral and criminal culpability and the degree of cruelty and senselessness and the complete absence of pity exhibited by the prisoner is so grave and reprehensible that he is undeserving of a chance to live his own life.

“It is only just and fair that the prisoner should pay for the crime with his own life,” Justice Yalo said in his 44-page judgment.

He ordered that Lati be held in custody at Baisu jail and his sentence be carried out at a time and place to be appointed by the head of State, acting on advice, and that he be hanged by the neck until he is dead.

Justice Yalo also told the prisoner he had the right to appeal against the sentence, and had 40 days to do so.


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