Convicted soldier acquitted

The National,Thursday June 9th, 2016

ONE of the 13 soldiers convicted of mutiny for disobeying orders from their authority was acquitted yesterday by a Court Martial in Port Moresby.
Defence Force judge Justice Panuel Mogish revisited his decision on the verdict made last Wednesday and a no-case submission made on May 12 and found that Corporal Peter Perari was not guilty on all the four charges of mutiny because he was not with the 12 soldiers in Hela when the offence occurred.
Mogish found in his summary that five soldiers were guilty on two counts of mutiny and seven were guilty on one count of mutiny.
The soldier guilty on two counts were Major Edimani Benjamin, Warrant Officer Ludwig Miugle, Sergeant Amos Kaupa, Sergeant Mairi Mairi and 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 were found guilty on one count of mutiny.
The 12 convicted soldiers applied for bail yesterday. They asked the court to grant them bail after conviction because they had families to look after.
Their lawyer Captain Wesley Dickson told the court that the soldiers were put off the payroll.
He said their commanding officer Edimani Benjamin had written to the administration regarding their pay issue but there was no response.
Wesley also submitted that the military cell in Murray Barracks was not suitable.
He said the soldiers could not be remanded with civilians at Bomana prison.
He told the court that the soldiers were senior military officers serving in the force for six to 35 years and the circumstances surrounding their charge of mutiny was not serious.
Wesley said the charges was related to disobedience of lawful orders and not serious circumstances where weapons were used as in some mutiny cases.
He asked the court to use its discretion to grant bail to the soldiers.
Defence Force prosecutor Major Camilus Sambua opposed the bail application.
Sambua said  the grounds on family welfare, old age or maturity and good service were not good grounds to warrant as exceptional circumstances to grant bail after conviction.
He told the court that arrangements had been made between Defence Force commander Brig-Gen Gilbert Toropo and Correctional Service Commissioner Michael Waipo for the 12 soldiers to be remanded at the Bomana prison pending their sentence.
The court will give its ruling on the bail application next Monday.
The submission on sentence will be made on June 22 and the court is expected to give its decision on sentence by the end of the month.