PNG Soldiers Found Guilty Of Mutiny Over Hela Province Affair

13 PNGDF soldiers refused to vacate Komo Base Camp when ordered

BY Daisy Pakawa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 2, 2016) – The thirteen PNG Defence Force soldiers have been found guilty on two out of the four counts of mutiny charges brought against them.

Justice Panuel Mogish found all 13 guilty of not complying with letter from the PNGDF headquarters requesting their withdrawal from Hela Province in 2014.

The soldiers were named as Major Edimani Benjamin, warrant officers Miugle Ludwig, Melerot Robin, Kaule Scotty; Sergeants Agiru Alex, Kaupa Amos, Mairi Mairi, Yupanga Joel, Guria Urban; Corporals Waimi Walter, Worihun Henry, Peter Perari and Private Philip Kiak.

He also found eight of them guilty of refusing to board the PNGDF helicopter after it was tasked to extract them and take them to Port Moresby.

As a result of which, they were forcefully disarmed and extracted.

Justice Mogish also ruled that all 13 were not guilty of two other counts of mutiny that they were charged with.

The first being that they told Casa aircraft captain, Lieutenant Chester Berobero via a phone conversation that they will not board the aircraft if he goes to extract them as their issues of allowances have not been addressed.

The second being that they refused to board the Casa aircraft after it first landed in Tari to extract them.

The events took place in late 2014 after the NEC approved PNGDF to take possession of the Komo Base Camp from ExxonMobil on behalf of the State for military purposes.

Thirty soldiers were deployed to the base.

Problems emerged after the initial funding of K1 million was exhausted.

The headquarter received reports that the soldiers were using illegal means to feed themselves and provide fuel to maintain the Komo base, thus the request for their return to Port Moresby.

Some of the 30 soldiers returned while the 13 stayed and were charged with four counts of mutiny under section 55(1) of the Defence Act.

A charge that has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

They pleaded not guilty and a trial was conducted.

The matter was adjourned to June 8.

PNG Post-Courier
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