Cops, InterOil firm on floating corpses’ origins

National, Normal


POLICE and petroleum developer, InterOil, have maintained that the bodies found floating in the Purari River, Gulf province, were not of Pawaia villagers.
A Wabo camp policeman, who is in Port Moresby, yesterday told The National there had been no reports of fights or killings in the Pawaia area from Yuaraido to Jablamaru.
Gulf police have also said the reports were purely based on assumptions.
Government officials, including Gulf police, have not visited the area.
About a week ago, villagers found 12 corpses floating down the Purari delta at Akoma and Akuni villages spotting knife and axe wounds.
Some of the bodies had badly decomposed and could not be brought ashore for burial.
Villagers believed that the corpses were the result of tribal killings further up the river, probably somewhere in the highlands.
An InterOil spokesman yesterday afternoon also maintained that the bodies did not belong to Purari villagers.
“These bodies were obviously dumped in tributary rivers that join the Purari above a place called Heathers Gorge further up.
“There have been no tribal fights or landowner fights anywhere near InterOil’s Elk and Antelope project areas or at Wabo camp,” he added. 
He said this was not the first time that bodies had floated down the Purari River from the highlands.
Attempts to get comments from the Gulf provincial administration and the provincial police commander were unsuccessful.