By MIRIAM ZARRIGA
TWELVE gang members of notorious criminal Tommy Maeva Baker were yesterday charged with one count of arson each for burning down a police barracks in Alotau, says Police Commissioner David Manning.
Comm Manning told The National that the 12 were detained at Giligili Prison after their special committal court sitting yesterday. Their case will be recalled on June 9.
The 12 men were arrested in a dawn raid by members of the Port Moresby-based special investigation taskforce assisting the Alotau police, at the Doa Compound yesterday.
Police arrested another four yesterday afternoon. They are undergoing interrogation as hunt continues for Baker.
They are expected to be charged today.
“The result speaks for itself and it is the commitment of the investigators to ensure those who caused damage to the properties and burned the Water Police Barracks are dealt with,” Comm Manning said.
“I would like to thank the people of Alotau for allowing police investigations to prevail and for those who are assisting police with the investigations.
“I am grateful for you all in taking the initiative to assist the investigators. It is a hard task but with your assistance, justice will prevail.”
Last Friday, Baker’s gang burned down the Alotau Water Police Barracks and went on a rampage in town looting shops.
Police said goods valued at K85,000, three semi-automatic shotguns and an undisclosed amount of money were stolen from shops and businesses during the looting.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Crimes, Hodges Ette confirmed the arrests by the National Capital District-based personnel who flew to Alotau last Friday, saying “the constabulary is happy with the outcome”.
“The arrest of the first 12 is a demonstration of collaboration with people on the ground, and our commitment and willingness to work despite the difficult circumstances we are faced with,” ACP Ette said. “We need support by the local political and regional leadership, they must demonstrate to work with police.
“Safety issue on the ground is theirs and we can only implement what is needed to be implemented in terms of policing services to the people.”
Milne Bay police commander Supt Peter Barkie said Senior Magistrate Wialo Sakatao presided over the special court sitting.
“The group was charged with arson and appeared before the Alotau committal court and are remanded at Giligili CIS,” Supt Barkie said.
“This is good work from the investigators but also I want to thank the general public for their initiative to come forward with information into the whereabouts of the suspects.
“We continue to work to ensure the threat to the province has subsided.” A senior prison officer at Giligili CIS confirmed that the 12 men were being held with security on high alert after receiving threats.
By MIRIAM ZARRIGA