2 Charged For Threatening PNG Governor Powes Parkop

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Couple, currently on bail, seized by police in sting operation

By Elizabeth Miae and Sheila Malken

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 13, 2014) – A man and woman have been arrested and charged with issuing a death threat to Governor Powes Parkop over the betel nut sale ban in Papua New Guinea’s National Capital District (NCD).

The pair was charged last Saturday under the Telecommunication Act for using their mobile phone to send the threatening message to Parkop. They were later released on K1,000 [US$389] bail each to await court appearance this week.

NCD Metropolitan Superintendent Andy Bawa said the pair from Chimbu province were apprehended at 9-Mile outside Port Moresby about 6am on Saturday.

Bawa said police intelligence reports indicated that other people were involved.

"No one has the right to issue threats to our leaders. Governor Powes Parkop is a national leader and no one has that right to issue threats to his life," Bawa said.

"We’re treating this threat very seriously. Besides these two suspects brought into custody any others who are still at large will be brought in and dealt with accordingly."

Bawa warned others who collaborated with the couple to threaten Parkop that it was a criminal act and police would ensure that they faced the full force of the law.

Parkop commended the police for arresting and charging the pair.

"Police have done very well and I commended them all for the swift way in which they dealt with the matter in tracking and apprehending the culprits," he said.

"This is to serve as a lesson to all our people, especially those hiding behind mobile phones and other technology, not to issue threats and commit other crimes.

"I want to encourage those who are against our decision to use peaceful and proper means to raise their grievance and not result to threats, violence and other legal means.

"Not only will these illegal means fail to change our mind but the police have shown that perpetrators will be caught and charged."

A joint investigation between the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and the Dog Unit apprehended the couple.

A female CID officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told reporters how the couple was lured to their place of arrest.

The officer called the mobile number several times and finally got through to the couple on Friday night.

She pretended to be a betel nut supplier and offered to sell bags of betel nuts to the couple to which they agreed to and the time and venue was set for their meeting.

The officer had succeeded in convincing the couple that they knew her even though they did not recognise the number she was calling from.

Police used a civilian who pretended to be the betel nut supplier and a final call was made to the couple to confirm their arrival.

Once they got to the meeting place they walked right into the hands of police.

"Upon our search we found the mobile phone, went through and found the text that was sent to the governor word for word," she said.

"During interrogation they claimed that a person from Gulf had used their phone to issue threats against Parkop."

[PIR editor's note: Meanwhile, The National also reports that temporary stalls set up by betel nut vendors outside the Laloki and Ruburogo markets were destroyed by police officers, following complaints made by landowners. Elsewhere, PNG police were warned by NCD Metropolitan Supt. Andy Bawa not to smuggle betel nut into Port Moresby, following reports that some officers had been involved in such illegal activities.]

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