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Police seek truth to shooting

Friday 4 December 2015 | Published in Regional

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PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s Police Commissioner, Gari Baki, said last week’s fatal shooting of a soldier by police in Port Moresby has been misrepresented by the media.

He said the case, on Thursday night last week, is being thoroughly investigated but he claims media reports surrounding the incident have been ‘grossly untrue”.

Baki said, thinking a speeding vehicle without lights may have been stolen, police started chasing it. He said the speeding car ran through traffic lights and a police road block without stopping and was overtaking 10 cars at a time.

Baki said it crashed soon after police started firing at it. He said it is likely the soldier driving the car died after being hit in the head by a police bullet.

Baki said claims by the other male soldier that police shot him in the back and that the female soldier in the car was harassed and abused are wrong.

Baki said the second soldier was shot in the arm.

He is calling for civilian witnesses to the incident to come forward to correct “grossly untrue claims” that the soldier was shot when he came out of the vehicle with his hands in the air to surrender.

Baki said the media had “disgustingly misreported the facts pertaining to the incident”.

The incident immediately caused a standoff between members of the two forces bringing the city to a near standstill.

“Contrary to what the media have reported, the soldier was not shot when he came out of the vehicle with his hands in the air.

“The vehicle he was in only stopped when it crashed into another vehicle.

“The female passenger and the soldier were both assisted out of the vehicle by police officers on the scene and moved to a waiting ambulance that took them to the Port Moresby General Hospital.

“At no time did policemen at the scene abuse the female as was reported by the media,” Baki said.

Baki said investigators have collected statements from eye witnesses which did not support the allegations by the wounded soldier.

“The area where the accident and alleged assault occurred was in a residential area and there were residents watching what was unfolding in front of them,” he said.

He said the drama came to a head at a road block set up by the mobile squad to stop the speeding vehicle.

“A Toyata Vista sedan sped through the road block and knocked over a policeman – the unit then pursued the vehicle.

“The vehicle was speeding with no headlights, it raised police suspicion that it could be a stolen vehicle.

“After the incident two police officers were assaulted by soldiers from the Taurama Barracks at a petrol station with two police vehicles damaged,” he said. “I have met with my PNGDF counterpart and expressed concerns at the lack of respect of the rule of law by soldiers.

“A crime report is yet to be submitted because the relatives of the deceased have not yet come to identify the body.

“We need the female passenger to come forward so we can obtain statements from her, all witnesses are asked to come forward as well with information to help with police investigations.

“I am treating this matter seriously and I am ensuring all that the matter will be investigated and appropriate action will be taken with nothing swept under the rug,” Baki said.

- PNC sources