OVERCROWDING SUSPECTED IN PNG PRISON DEATHS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post Courier, April 14) – Two Papua New Guinea prisoners died over the Easter weekend while several others have been admitted to the Mendi General Hospital after a serious disease outbreak, believed to be a combination of diarrhea and typhoid.

Acting provincial police commander, Inspector Michael Aglua, said jail authorities had taken precautionary measures by allowing remandees awaiting committal hearings to be released on bail fearing more deaths.

Mr Aglua said a coroner’s inquest was requested and post mortem would be carried out today to determine the cause of the deaths.

"The situation at the prison is out of hand. We didn’t establish the cause of the deaths as yet but it may be overcrowding, dehydration or the continuous wet season that might have some impact on their lives," Aglua said.

He said plans were under way for prisoners to be transferred to other jails around the country to avoid further deaths while the problem at the jail was being looked into.

Director of Medical Services at Mendi hospital, Dr Nolpi Toang has confirmed the deaths, saying a post mortem would be conducted today.

Meanwhile, Insp Aglua said police had locked all entrances and were taking control of the Agiru Centre to bar any conflicting factions from entering the provincial headquarters while separate court orders were pending.

He said public servants had not been at work for two days and the administration had come to a standstill.

He said thousands of people were awaiting court results yesterday to know who their provincial administrator would be.

"The situation here is a bit tense but my men are keeping their fingers across. We will continue to protect government property and lives" he said.

The National Court in Mt Hagen yesterday adjourned the case over the Southern Highlands’ administrator’s post to next Friday.

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