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Election Observer assault claims denied: PNG Police
10:59 pm GMT+12, 11/07/2017, Papua New Guinea

 Papua New Guinea Police have denied a claim by Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato that security force officers bashed up an election observer and smashed his mobile phone outside a counting centre in Port Moresby.
 
Metropolitan Superintendent Benjamin Turi also denied the claim that observers representing the Melanesian Spearhead Group were harassed by officers outside the same venue last week.
 
“My venue commander at Rita Flynn Complex said no such thing happened nor was any such report received from officers at the venue,” Turi said.
 
“They (observers) must have been assaulted by the crowd, who were rowdy and agitated. The crowd just don’t respect anyone.”
 
Turi said some people at the scene pretended to be police officers and were checking vehicles and individuals entering the counting venue.
 
“Maybe the crowd must have assaulted the observers while checking them,” Turi said.
 
“But we are calling on the observers who were assaulted to come and lay a complaint with us.
 
“We are also calling on the observers to stay close to police at the counting venues.”
 
Gamato, in a letter to Police Commissioner Gari Baki, dated July 8, said an observer (a local) representing the Australian National University was punched and had his mobile phone smashed at the Rita Flynn Complex, allegedly by security personnel.
 
Gamato also informed Baki the observers from the MSG were harassed by security personnel at the same venue last Saturday.
 
“I request that you remind members of the security forces to allow observers to carry out their work without harassment or aggression from the officers,” he said.
 
Meanwhile, Defence Force Commander Brigadier-General Gilbert Toropo says five soldiers arrested in Chimbu for being in possession of ammunition and K5000 (US$1,547) will also be dealt with by a military court.
 
Toropo said he did not condone such conduct.
 
“They will also be tried under the court of military discipline according to the evidence presented during the court hearing.”
 
Toropo said soldiers deployed during the general election had been clearly instructed that their duty was to create a safe and conducive environment for the electoral process to take place “freely, fairly and trouble-free”.
 
Eastern End assistant police commissioner Nema Mondiai confirmed that one of the soldiers was jailed for three months, and the others were warned and released.
 
“The five officers have been identified as officers from the Taurama Barracks in Port Moresby that were deployed to Jiwaka for the election security operations,” Mondiai said.
 
“All five were in civilian clothes and were driving three unmarked vehicles when they were stopped by police officers and their vehicles checked.”
 
He said police found an undisclosed number of ammunition in their possession and K5000 hidden in their shoes.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
 


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