PNG POLICE OFFICER HOSPITALIZED AFTER AMBUSH

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 14) – Station commander of Porgera Police Station in Enga province, Richard Koki, was reported to be fighting for his life at the Paiam Hospital in Porgera after he was "mistakenly" attacked at a roadblock in Laiagam on Saturday.

[PIR editor’s note: Laiagam is located in Enga province in the central part of Papua New Guinea’s mainland peninsula.]

Mr. Koki, who was implicated in the [October] shootout that led to the killing of three students and wounding of 18 others, was being taken to Wabag when they were stopped at the roadblock.

Locals, who set up the roadblock, allegedly with the help of a mobile unit based in Laiagam, were to "free" him from the investigators escorting him, but instead attacked him. A source in Wabag said he sustained serious wounds to his head.

The source said he was saved by the police mobile squad based in Laiagam and was currently at the Paiam hospital’s intensive care unit at Porgera as his injuries were very critical.

Paiam hospital could not be reached yesterday to verify this information due to communication problems.

However, sources at Porgera mine site confirmed that Mr. Koki was brought to the hospital on Saturday evening.

Enga police boss Chief Superintendent Teddy Tei said yesterday from Wabag that Mr. Koki was attacked at the roadblock.

"But I do not know if he was admitted to the hospital or not. I also do not know if the attackers were attacking him or rescuing him. But I will travel to Laiagam tomorrow (today) to get first hand information regarding the incident," he said.

[PIR editor’s note: A related story published in today’s PIR reports that Enga provincial police commander Tedi Tei said yesterday that police may have been involved in the hold-up. He said a team of investigators from police headquarters in Port Moresby was held-up at Laiagam on the weekend while on their way to Porgera to pick up two more suspects in the school-shooting incident. He also suspected some rural police officers between Laiagam and Porgera may have been involved in the hold-up.]

Police internal affairs officer-in-charge Senior Inspector Sylvester Kalaut also confirmed that Mr. Koki was attacked.

Mr. Kalaut said the investigating team leader Chief Inspector Ramba Liku was stoned in his left arm.

He said Mr. Liku with three other investigators were in Wabag and will return to Port Moresby tomorrow.

"We will then regroup after the festive season and return to Wabag to continue the investigations," he said.

Mr. Kalaut said that the Laiagam mobile squad commander Inspector Felix Detepat and a Porgera policeman Constable Paul Bania had been suspended without pay pending the investigations.

December 15, 2005

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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