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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 5) - Ajoro villagers in Northern province, Papua New Guinea, are threatening to shut down the Girua Airport and the portion of the main highway that links Oro Bay and Popondetta town.

The threat was made by disgruntled villagers after a reserve policeman attached to the Popondetta police station allegedly mobilized some men and bashed youths from Ajoro village in retaliation following the death of a man who was killed in a road accident.

The man was allegedly under the influence of alcohol and marijuana and died after falling off a truck belonging to a man from Ajoro village on Nov 16.

Initial police investigations and a post mortem conducted at the Popondetta General Hospital on Dec 12 revealed that the man had died as a result of injuries sustained from the accident.

However, Ajoro community leaders allege that the police reservist who is also a relative of the deceased has been threatening their villagers.

Ajoro village chief Alphaues Hamenu said the reservist led a group of men to the Popondetta Police Station on Nov 17 where they assaulted nine youths from Ajoro village who were taken to the station for questioning after the accident.

Mr Hamenu alleged that Popondetta police did not intervene when the reservist and his gang attacked the youths.

He said the youths were severely beaten and taken to the Popondetta General Hospital for treatment before being locked up for seven days without being charged.

He described the detention as illegal and a violation of their human rights.

Mr Hamenu called for an investigation to be carried out into the actions of the reserve policeman.

He said the driver of the truck was charged for driving an unregistered and uninsured motor vehicle.

Mr Hamenu said the villagers were also forced to pay K5,000 in cash and kind to the deceased’s relatives although they were not responsible for his death.

Mr Hamenu said the policeman and his gang are also demanding K45,000 as well as the truck and a PMV bus from the villagers.

The Ajoro villagers own the land on which the Girua airport is on.

January 5, 2004

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