Soldier involved in killing of Papua New Guinea villager to face trial

Clifford Faiparik
2022.11.25
Daru, Papua New Guinea
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Soldier involved in killing of Papua New Guinea villager to face trial Papers are strewn across the floor of the Daru military post in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province following its ransacking the week before by villagers, Nov. 22, 2022.
Clifford Faiparik/BenarNews

A Papua New Guinean soldier and three civilians will face trial for the killing of a villager last month that sparked the ransacking of the Daru military post, according to a local court.

The border patrol soldier and the civilians are in police custody in Daru, the main town of Western Province’s South Fly district, where soldiers are allegedly responsible for the deaths of two other civilians since 2019. 

“These killings are due to a lack of policemen in South Fly District,” a Daru police officer told BenarNews earlier this week.

“When there are no policemen, the public seek soldiers’ help to solve a brawl or investigate misuse of public funds,” said the officer, who did not want to be named for security reasons. 

The chief of the Papua New Guinea Defense Force, Maj. Gen. Mark Goina, told BenarNews that an investigation into the most recent death has looked into whether the accused soldier followed proper procedures by helping police with an investigation. 

Police numbers per 100,000 people in Papua New Guinea are among the lowest for any country. The Daru military post helps supply food and logistics support to soldiers based about 300 km (186 miles) west in Weam, who patrol the PNG-Indonesia border. 

Daru resident Aiyao Masi said the villager who was killed had been accused of adultery and the aggrieved husband sought the soldier’s help to have the man arrested. A fight broke out during the arrest and the man died from his beating, Masi said. 

Adultery is an offense in Papua New Guinea, punishable by fine. 

WEAM.jpg
The Daru military post in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province, Nov. 22, 2022.
[Clifford Faiparik/BenarNews]

About 300 people from the dead man’s village, Bamu, ransacked the military post last week and destroyed sensitive documents on border movements, Masi said on Tuesday. 

The Daru police officer said soldiers beat a contractor to death in May 2021. He had allegedly misused funds that were meant for the construction of a border post at Weam.

In 2019, soldiers en route to Weam severely beat an aggressive drunk after frightened Wipim villagers sought their help in subduing him. The man died after soldiers left the village.

Goina said he will soon release the investigation reports into the deaths of the Bamu villager and the contractor but has not received a report on the killing at Wipim.

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