By ZACHERY PER
SEVENTEEN Kainantu landowners charged for blocking the Bane Bridge section of the Highlands Highway in Kainantu last week are out on bail, according to police in Eastern Highlands.
Provincial police commander Supt Alex N’Drasal confirmed the arrest of 17 members of Anku’Ainetenu Landowner Group, mostly men.
They were arrested and charged under Sections 8 and 9 of the Highway Transport Infrastructure Act 2010.
He said one of them also faced additional charge for being in possession of a homemade gun under section 27 (1) (a) of the Firearms Act.
He said nine of them were charged for extortion and seven others were faced for setting road blocks.
“One facing the additional firearm charge was refused bail and was remanded in custody but escaped on Sunday night, while 16 others were released on K1000 bail each, they paid a total of K16,000,” N’Drasal said.
The court adjourned the case to Oct 26.
Disgruntled members of the Anku’Ainetenu Landowner Group in Kainantu blocked off Bane Bridge and another 4.5km stretch of the highway last week and demanded the Government to pay them K85 million for the use of their customary land to build the highway.
Police forcefully removed the roadblocks and arrested the suspects and also destroyed homes in Kainantu.
Meanwhile, N’Drasal has instituted an internal investigation into the break out from the Goroka police cells on Sunday night. He said Mt Hagen-based policeman who was in custody for a serious offence and a Kainantu tribesman were among those who escaped.
By ZACHERY PER