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Wednesday 20 April 2016 | Published in Regional


PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Two men found guilty of murdering asylum seeker Reza Barati will spend just over three more years in prison, Papua New Guinea police say.

Two former workers at Australia’s offshore detention centrre on PNG’s Manus Island, Joshua Kaluvia and Louie Efi, were sentenced this week to 10 years’ jail, suspended after five years, for killing the Iranian man during a riot in February 2014.

The court heard Kaluvia repeatedly hit the 23-year-old on the head with a piece of wood with a nail in the end of it, before Efi dropped a large rock on his head.

PNG police said because of time already spent at Lorengau Jail on Manus Island, the two men would spend just over three further years in prison.

Kaluvia was recaptured twice after evading arrest.

Detainees at the offshore detention centre say they are dismayed at the sentence and the fact that it was partially suspended.

The main witness in the case, Barati’s roommate Benham Satah, said he was worried that other people allegedly involved in the killing had not been charged.

They include one Australian and one New Zealander.

“I wish those people could also have been charged, but sometimes some countries are very powerful and they can protect their own people from being charged,” he said.

Satah, who has been threatened for giving evidence against the convicted killers and still fears for his safety, said many people who committed violent crimes during the riot had not been prosecuted, and some still work at the centre.

He said detainees feel there has been no justice, because the people who put them in detention and created the conditions that led to the extreme violence have not been sanctioned.

“It’s not justice,” he said. “I don’t see it as justice because there are many people, they should have been charged for it, for causing it, for starting it.

“Ten years, 20 years, they cannot bring Reza back to his family and they never can make his mother happy or his family happy.”

Another detainee, Behrouz Boochani, said asylum seekers were dismayed at the length of the sentence, and how it was partially suspended.

Boochani said detainees feared they could spend as much time locked up in detention as the convicted killers will in jail.

“I feel angry when I compare our situation with a killer who will only go to jail for about five years,” he said. “It makes me angry and hopeless.”

Manus Provincial Police Commander David Yapu said the decision by the National Court was a relief and that the jailing would reflect positively on PNG’s justice system.

The commander commended detectives on the case for their persistence.

A senate inquiry in December 2014 found the cause of the riot in which Barati died to be a failure to process asylum seeker claims, stating the violence was imminently foreseeable. - PNC