Cops punished for attack on school children

National, Normal


THREE police officers, involved in discharging firearms at  more than 20 school children in Porgera, Enga province, in 2005, have been sentenced to jail by the National Court in Wabag.
Ex-Inspector Felix Nebanat of Kavieng in New Ireland province, charged with grievous bodily harm under section 315 of the criminal code was sentence to eight years with hard labour.
Ex-Senior Sgt Richard Koki and ex-first constable Paul Pane, both from Vanimo, Sandaun province, were sentenced to 18 months each for unlawful assault under section 340 of the criminal code.
The three officers were initially charged in 2005 when they went to Porgera Primary School to arrest the headmaster of the school after he (headmaster) accused of stealing K900 belonging to the school during a police road block at Kairik,  near Porgera airstrip.
At that time, the three officers allegedly used high powered rifles against the school children when the children tried to stop the police from assaulting their headmaster.
In the chaos, a total of 21 students were reportedly shot at and many received pellet wounds to various parts of their bodies.
The court gave Sgt Nebanat serious penalty as he was the commanding officer at the time and gave the order to shoot.
The two others assaulted the headmaster in front of the students, which forced the students to retaliate.
The actual judgment was prepared by Justice Nemo Yalo, before he was transferred to Lae.
The judgment was handed down by Justice Graham Ellis.
The actions of the policemen against the school children attracted widespread international condemnation.
Organisations in the country and abroad expressed concern about such violation of human right by law enforcement officers.