6 Appear In Court Over Attack On Trekkers, Porters In PNG

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Men charged with murder, bodily harm and armed robbery

By Liam Fox

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Sept. 30, 2013) – Six men have appeared in court in Papua New Guinea over the attack on a group of Australian trekkers and their local porters earlier this month.

Two local porters were killed and seven Australians and a New Zealander were injured in the attack on the Black Cat Track on September 10.

Another porter, Lionel Agilo, later died in hospital from severe machete wounds.

In the days after the attack police in Morobe province arrested six men, who appeared in court for the first time last Friday.

The accused appeared in court in the provincial capital, Lae, each charged with three counts of murder.

Local reports said the men have also been charged with attempted murder, grievous bodily harm and armed robbery.

If found guilty the men could face the death penalty after PNG's parliament reinstated capital punishment earlier this year.

The case against the six defendants was adjourned to December and the men were remanded in custody.

In the wake of the attack, the leader of the trekking group, Christy King, said she was deeply saddened by what she described as a "frenzied bloody massacre."

Meanwhile Mr. Agilo's family accused his employer PNG Trekking Adventures of doing nothing to help him.

His brother Nick Agilo said the company should have taken the injured porters to a place with better supplies and treatment options.

PNG Trekking Adventures denied it had not done enough and this month said it was "working furiously" on treatment options for the porters.

Ms. King and her husband Daniel have set up bank accounts for donations towards the porters' treatment.

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