CORONER PREPARES INVESTIGATION INTO SHOOTING OF UPNG STUDENTS

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 29, 2001 - The National/Papua New Guinea Post-Courier/NAU-FM/PINA Nius Online)---A coroner's inquest will begin soon to establish the cause and circumstances of the shooting death of three University of Papua New Guinea students, Coroner Minty Mae said yesterday.

The students were allegedly shot dead by police during confrontations early this week.

This followed days of protests against the government's privatization policies, the involvement of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Papua New Guinea, and rumors of land policy changes.

Mrs. Mae began the first step of the inquest by visiting the Port Moresby General Hospital morgue yesterday to view the bodies of the three students.

She also signed papers authorizing doctors at the hospital to begin post-mortems on the bodies.

Mrs. Mae was appointed by the Chief Magistrate as the coroner of Port Moresby. She is empowered under section 7 of the Coroner's Act to inquire into deaths caused by police shooting.

During the course of the inquest, she will try to establish where, when and how the deaths took place.

She will also try to establish whether the deaths were willful murder, murder, or manslaughter, and who might have been responsible.

"As long as students, or any other bystanders come forward with their statements about what they saw, I should start in about a month," Mrs. Mae said.

The three students whose bodies are in the morgue have been identified as: Simon Noki, a second year Arts student from Western Highlands; Steven Kil, a third year Business Communication student from Tambul also in Western Highlands province; and Thomas Maruwo, an ICDE student from Asaro in Eastern Highlands province.

Port Moresby continues to pick up the pieces from Tuesday’s violent rioting.

The public transport system working again, enabling people to get to work.

Public offices, businesses and shops also have re-opened.

Government offices, while open, were not fully manned as some workers stayed away in anticipation of more problems.

Long lines immediately formed at refreshed Automatic Teller Machines.

Schools remained closed, following a decision by the National Capital District Education Office on Tuesday to shut down all schools and have students take their second-term school holidays early. The term holidays were to have started next Monday.

The grounds of the Port Moresby General Hospital, scene of a gathering on Wednesday by sympathizers of university students mourning the killing of three colleagues, was deserted yesterday.

Police continued to be readily available around the city, with a very visible presence in areas where the most damage was caused by rioters on Tuesday.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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