Victims of police brutality in PNG get compensation payments

Port Moresby (The National): Victims of police brutality at Watarais in the Markham district, Morobe, have been awarded more than K850,000 in damages by the National Court.
Justice George Manuhu, who handed down the decision on the long-standing dispute last Thursday, ruled that special and general damages were K678,089,69 plus 8% interest from the date of filing the writ to date of judgment, bringing the total to K859,037,53.
The crisis occurred in 1996 between a Goroka-based police riot squad and villages, in the Watarais area at the bottom of the Kassam Pass.
A spokesman for the victims, Soni Maraba, said they appreciated the court’s decision but were not satisfied with the K500 per person payment, which excluded another 500 claimants.
Maraba said they would seek legal advice to ensure they were properly compensated.
“Goroka police led by commander the late Titus Pamben went on a rampage and burnt our homes and properties, young women were abducted and raped and a man was shot dead instantly,” he said.
“People assaulted with gun butts, forced to walk on knees, run 6km from Atzunas to the Watarais Junction, kerosene poured on men and torture, most sustained body and head injuries.”
Maraba said that police actions were “brutal and inhuman” and contravened the Human Rights Act. 
Morobe leaders, who were victims of the police brutality, included former Markham MP Andrew Baing, former premier Jerry Nalau, former provincial administrator Manasupe Zurenuoc and Markham district administrator John Nicholas.
The victims were 1,189 from Waterais, Marawasa, Ragitzaria, 721 from Marasasa, Wankum, Atzunas, 53 from Ragizumang, Tumua, Waritziang, Ragiampun, 115 from Gainaru, Tofmora, Intsi, Zumara, Marafau, Malamsariang, Ngaruapum and Gudzuap, 72 from Ngaruburam and Mutzing public servants.
Maraba commended current Markham MP and Housing Minister Paul Isikiel and Sir Manasupe for supporting their case.

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