Monday, August 30, 2010

Dead at mine site



ARMED security guards and police reservists at the Porgera gold mine in Enga have been blamed for the death a landowner and the wounding of another last week, The National reports.

Police have confirmed receiving news of the death and shooting but could not give further details as investigations were continuing.

Reports alleged that the landowner was killed inside the mine site and his body dumped outside the camp last Thursday.

Highlands regional police boss Supt Simon Kaupa confirmed that the security guards were also enlisted as police reservists.

He was yet to receive a report from the local police force in Porgera.

Acting Porgera police station commander Snr Sgt Poko Itapa confirmed the killing and shooting but could not say much because investigations were continuing.

He said a landowner chief was allegedly shot by security guards as villagers fronted up at the company gate to inquire about the death of their relative.

Landowner chairman Mark Tony Ekepa told The National in a phone interview that relatives of the victim had protested outside the community affairs office last Friday at about midday.

However, he claimed Barricks security guards fired into the crowd and wounded Nixon Mangape, the chief landowner and chairman of Porgera Development Authority.

He said Mangape was trying to control the crowd and was not involved in the protest.

Police said that the empty bullet shells were found at the site of the shooting and were tendered in as evidence.

Porgera’s Paiam Hospital chief Dr Granda Granada said a person was rushed to the hospital with a bullet wound at the back of his buttock but was discharged after treatment as it was not severe.

He also confirmed that a body, found near the mine site, was brought to the hospital prior to the shooting but declined to comment further.

He said a post-mortem and x-ray results indicated a fractured neck bone and believed that the person could have died from blunt trauma, particularly caused by blunts things like sticks, metal or rocks.

The landowners said last Friday’s incident was not the first involving live bullets.

They said that numerous complaints had been lodged with the PNG government, the UN Human Rights Commission that included various reputable institutions around the globe.

“Shooting to death of defenceless landowners is serious human rights abuse. 

“Therefore, the Porgera Landowners Association calls on the PNG government and local NGOs to investigate the shooting and to allow law to take its course,” Ekepa said.

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