CORRECTIONAL Services Minister Tony Aimo and Commissioner Richard Sikani yesterday defended the shooting of prisoners at the Baisu jail outside Mt Hagen last week.
The shooting of the prisoners, apparently by warders, led to the death of seven prisoners.
It appeared that the prisoners were shot at without any warning shots being fired first, prompting calls for an inquiry into the killings.
A relative of an inmate who died claimed his brother, a remandee, was shot in the head.
But Aimo and Sikani yesterday said the warders acted within their rights and there was no need for an investigation.
Sikani stressed that it was now a coroner’s case that would require a coronial inquest into the incident.
He said there would be no internal investigation.
Aimo backed his commissioner, saying the CS officers did their mandated responsibilities in the course of duty.
The minister said the actions of the CS officers also prevented the mass escape of all 400 prisoners held at Baisu jail.
He also slammed critics who have been opposing his plan to bring in non-lethal weapons from a manufacturer in Australia for the Correctional Services.
This would cost the CS K9 million, money many critics said should have been used to improve conditions at Baisu and other jails in the country.
“If I had non-lethal weapons, these escapees will not have been killed,” Aimo said in defence of the use of firearms by warders.
On the mystery illness that killed three prisoners, and caused the prisoners to break out last Friday, Aimo said the CS should not be the only government agency to be blamed as there were others that had failed in their duties which contributed to the worsening water situation at Baisu.Aimo said the water problem at Baisu contributed to dysentery and diarrhoea which led to the earlier deaths of three detainees on Oct 30, last Tuesday and last Wednesday at the Mt Hagen General Hospital.
He said the Correctional Services was doing everything to address the issues including transferring 50 inmates to Barawagi in Chimbu and 20 to BuiIebu in the Southern Highlands. It had also brought in a contractor to look at the water problems.
He said health officers also visited the jail and fumigated detainee facilities twice for a number of days and collected samples for clinical tests while PNG Waterboard and CS contractors were working on the water lines to restore water.
An internal memo from the deputy commissioner operations, Henry Wavik, said last Friday at 4pm, detainees in the maximum security compound collaborated and, in fear of contracting the diseases after seeing 21 detainees hospitalised and three dead, scaled the fence.
The memo said 57 escaped with CS officers in pursuit recapturing 31, five were shot dead instantly while 12 were seriously wounded.
Twenty-six are still at large.
Reports said those killed included one each from Tari, Laiagam and Wabag with two from Mt Hagen.