Thursday, September 09, 2010

Jails to buy 1,500 semi-automatic weapons, 50,000 rounds from Australia

CORRECTIONAL Services Minister Tony Aimo has confirmed overseas media reports that the Correctional Services will buy non-lethal weapons worth more than K9 million for its jails from Australian defence technology company Metal Storm Ltd, The National reports.

The Brisbane-based company announced separately on its website that the Correctional Services planned to have about 1,500 of these weapons in service starting next year.

Aimo said CS had placed orders worth US$3.364 million (K9.1 million) but no payments had been made as arrangements were being done on a government-to-government level.

The minister, reinstated CS commissioner Richard Sikani and deputy commissioner operations Henry Wavik will travel to Brisbane next week to check on the weapons.

Metal Storm said this week it would supply 500 weapons and 50,000 rounds of ammunition in a deal signed with Aimo.

The semi-automatic weapons would be used with non-lethal ammunition and would be deployed to CS officers in charge of security at jails throughout the country, providing non-lethal response capabilities that could be lifted to immediate lethal response if necessary.

 “PNG is delighted to be able to source weapons at the leading edge of shotgun technology and we hope in due course to have about 1,500 of these weapons in service,” Aimo said.

He said he expected ratification of the urgent purchase through the usual government protocols shortly and the first 50 weapons to be delivered by next February.

Aimo said CS would be getting non-lethal weapons while the police and defence would be beefing up their firepower with lethal weapons.

He said orders had been placed and were going through the normal procurement process.

“If things go well, Correctional Services will be the first to get non-lethal weapons that is aimed at injuring rather than killing of escapees.

“We do not want to kill prison escapees, the message we want to get across is for escapees to go back and serve their jail term, and we (CS) will rehabilitate you into the community as a reformed person.”

Aimo said that CS saw the capacity of the weapon to deliver a rapid and escalating response as exactly what was necessary for security in PNG jails.

Metal Storm CEO Dr Lee Finniear said the production contract was a watershed for the company after many years of research, development and testing.

He said that an additional advantage for the CS was that weapons that were lost or stolen could not be used with conventional illegally obtained ammunition.

“Illegal arms possession is a big problem in PNG and the government are determined to tackle the issue on a variety of fronts.

“By purchasing Metal Storm weapons, the PNG Correctional Services is contributing to government arms control by ensuring that, if stolen, its new weapons cannot be used effectively by criminals,” Finniear said.



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