VILLAGERS THROW AIDS VICTIM INTO WAHGI RIVER

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KEROWAGI, Papua New Guinea (November 9, 1999 – Post-Courier)---At least one HIV/AIDS victim has been confirmed to have been thrown into the Wahgi River in the Kerowagi District of Chimbu Province.

A staff member from the Catholic Bishop’s Office in Kundiawa called yesterday to confirm this report on behalf of the Bishop of Kundiawa, Bishop William Kurtz.

She made the call in response to information from the province that three HIV/AIDS sufferers in Kerowagi were thrown into the fast flowing Wahgi waters last week.

The caller said she did not know of the other two, but a parish priest from Yombar area had told Bishop Kurtz that he knew of one case. This was a man who was confirmed to have had HIV/AIDS.

The victim was thrown alive into the river. When he reached safety, his arms and legs were badly damaged and he was thrown back into the river.

The staffer said the ailing man could have died because the river was a turbulent one.

Three people down with "full-blown’’ AIDS were cast into the river by annoyed relatives, according to police and health workers in Chimbu’s Kerowagi District.

Police reported that the incident occurred in Bii village, near Kondiu Secondary School, on Thursday afternoon.

Killed, reportedly, were two young men and a woman. Police declined to disclose their names.

Police believed the entire village held a meeting and resolved to carry out the killings.

"We can’t do much because the villagers are not cooperating with us by identifying the ring leaders for arrest and prosecution,’’ a senior police officer said.

He said some youths allegedly took the three sick people from their village homes on stretchers on the pretext of transferring them to another village.

Instead of doing that, the young men took them to the nearby Wahgi River and dropped them into the water.

A health worker, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the three had been in an advanced stage of their illness.

He said one of the male victims had just returned from Port Moresby before the village "ambushing.’’

Another young man from the same village died of AIDS recently.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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