FIVE PNG UNIVERSITY STUDENTS NABBED FOR

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‘SUBVERSION’
Defendants on trial for helping raise a flag

JAVAPURA, Melanesia (NewPacific Media Center, June 13, 2011) – Five students from the University of Papua (UNIPA) are to go on trial on a charge of "makar" – subversion, JUBI reports.

They are charged with having raised the "14-star flag" together with Dance Yenu and Melkianus Bleskadit to mark the anniversary of the independence of the Republic of West Melanesia on 14 December 2010.

Their lawyer, Simon Riziard Banundi, who is on the legal team to defend the students, confirmed that the trial had commenced at the Manokwari district court on Monday.

The students are charged with makar, translated as subversion, rebellion or treason. Four of them are in their first semester while the other one is in the eighth semester.

The students are:

* Jhon Wenda, 21

* George Rawiay, 20

* Benha Supanga, 20

* Alex Duwen, 22

* Iyance, 19

Banundi confirmed that they were being charged with makar under Article 106 of the Criminal Code.

JUBI also reported that a number of journalists have been placed under pressure with regard to their reporting of the trial.

Lawyer Simon Banundi said that on the first day of the trial, May 31, a large number of journalists from the print and electronic media turned up to follow the trial.

Under pressure

However, on the second day, there was no reporting at all. The lawyer believes the press are under pressure with regard to their reporting of the trial.

Banundi referred to one journalist who did not want to identify himself as having been under pressure from the chief of police in Manokwari not to give too much attention to the trial.

One of his colleagues, who also wants to remain anonymous, confirmed this.

On the second day of the trial, witnesses for the defence were questioned in court. One of the witnesses who appeared was said to be also likely to face the charge of makar.

As previously reported, two other Papuans, Dance Yenu and Melkianus Bleskaadit, are also facing the same charge for raising the 14-star flag on 14 December last year.

Pacific Media Center By permission from Pacific Media Center

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