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SOMARE’S SON CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER IN PNG Warriors arrive amid tensions as suspect released on bail

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 24, 2010) – In Papua New Guinea, Wewak police have charged Michael Somare Jr with the attempted murder of East Sepik Governor Peter Wararu Waranaka and released him on surety of 1000 kina [US$400], according to reliable sources in the East Sepik capital.

[PIR editor’s note: Wewak is the capital of East Sepik Province in Papua New Guinea. The Yangorus are from the Yanguro-Saussia district in East Sepik.]

New information reached the Post-Courier last night that a number of high profile criminals have arrived in Wewak to support Mr. Waranaka incase of an all-out battle between the Yangorus and the Somare supporters.

While Wewak police refused to officially comment on the matter as it was too sensitive and political in nature, the Post-Courier was reliably informed yesterday that provincial police commander Inspector Charles Parinjo went to the Somare family residence in Wewak and took in Michael Jr on Wednesday. Michael is the last born of the five siblings of sidelined Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare who has been the regional East Sepik Member of Parliament (MP) since 1968.

Michael Jr runs a construction and engineering business of the Somare family in Wewak called SBA Engineering which was originally started by his elder brother Sana who now lives in Singapore.

His sister Betha is the eldest and is the Prime Minister’s media director, followed by Sana then Arthur who is the MP for Angoram and Minister for State Enterprises followed by Dulcie who resides in Cairns and Michael Jr.

Sources close to the family said the dispute between Michael Jr and Mr. Waranaka stemmed from a number of administrative and political issues and the recent arrest of former deputy administrator Ben Warakai over alleged misappropriation of project funds.

Michael Jr is understood to have driven to Wewak Hill on Saturday evening and went to the Governor’s residence and confronted Mr. Waranaka in the presence of East Sepik Administrator Samson Torovi and senior officer James Baloiloi, who is the provincial head of the Works division.

During the argument, Michael Jr pulled out a pump-action shotgun and pointed it at Mr. Waranaka in close-range, but as he was about to pull the trigger, Mr. Torovi hit the arm holding the gun and the bullet missed the Governor.

His father, Sir Michael, was quick to offer the olive branch for peace on Monday with two pigs and 30,000 kina [US$12,000] in cash and urged the family and supporters of both sides not to take the law into their own hands and assured the people that his son would be dealt with under the law like any other person.

Michael Jr had co-operated with the police and offered himself for the arrest yesterday.

Meanwhile, Mr Waranaka’s maternal uncles were still maintaining their demand of 5 million-kina [US$2 million] in compensation from the Somare family while the Yangoru and Saussia people also demanded a further 30 million [US$12 million].

Police could not say when Michael Jr would appear in court for mention.

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