Suspended jail terms for rebellious soldiers

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THE 12 soldiers convicted of mutiny for disobeying orders from the Defence Force headquarters to abort a mission they were engaged in last year in Hela have been given suspended jail terms.
The 12 who faced the court martial were Major Edimani Benjamin, Warrant Officer Ludwig Miugle, Sergeant Amos Kaupa, Sergeant Mairi Mairi, Corporal Henry Worihu, Warrant Officer Melerot Robin, Warrant Officer Scotty Kaule, Sergeant Alex Agiru, Sergeant Joel Yapanga, Sergeant Urban Guria, Corporal Walter Waimi and Private Philip Kiak. They were convicted of mutiny on June 1 for disobeying orders from the military headquarters in Port Moresby between August 19 and December 28 last year to abort their mission in Komo, Hela and return to Port Moresby.
Defence Force judge Justice Panuel Mogish handed down the court’s decision on Saturday.
He ordered that their leader Edimani be sentenced to four years while the rest to three years.
He suspended their sentences and put them on a good behavior bond for two years. He also ordered that each soldier pay a fine of K1000 by close of business today.
“Given the strong extenuating circumstances, I would recommend that the soldiers be given the opportunity to leave the Defence Force in accordance with the Defence Act rather than being dishonorably discharged,” he said.
“That is a matter for the Commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force to consider.
“I feel this is the best way to address the punishment for the offending soldiers especially when others in the system who contributed to the problem have not been investigated and charged for their part in what will go down in military history as a failed operation in peace time.”
Edimani said outside the court that the decision was fair and the men were happy because they had suffered for about a year.
The 12 soldiers were sent to provide security for the ExxonMobil Komo Camp which the Government wanted to convert into a military base.
They were told to return but chose to stay back in Hela from August to December.

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