Observer assault claims denied

National

By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK
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.

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