Court convicts ex-LLG president for murder

National, Normal

The National,Thursday 22nd December 2011

A former president of the Arabaka local level government in the Middle Ramu area has been found guilty of wilful murder by the National Court in Madang.
Judge David Cannings, after reading a 15-page account of the court’s findings, said on Monday there was enough evidence to convict Mark Bongede.
Bongede was charged with the death of a man on New Year’s Day 2009.
Celebrations were held in the village of Chungribu, where former Fisheries Minister Ben Semri and his son were the guests of honour.
The court was told that the Semri entourage, which included two policemen, celebrated in the village with loud music and alcohol and everyone retired peacefully for the night.
But during the early hours of that morning, Bongede’s son, MacGregor Bongede, and a local schoolteacher, Linus Yaras Runabai, got into a fight.
The accused intervened and punched the teacher who left only to return with a group of young men.
The deceased, Gary Dembi, was among the group.
The court was told that despite conflicting stories by the accused that it was not him but his nephew who committed the offence, other independent witnesses who saw the murder told the court that Dembi was cut twice on the head, once on the right leg extending into the tibia and on the right hand where the pointer and thumb were severed.
Medical reports said Dembi died from blood loss.
Cannings said Bongede’s claim of self-defence and provocation on the deceased’s part could not be relied on.
“The day before the trial, affidavits of defence witnesses were served. Those affidavits had the effect of raising the defence of general denial as the evidence would be that it was not the accused who killed the deceased, but rather, the accused’s nephew, Effien Atau.”
The court was told that on the afternoon of the murder, K15,600 in compensation was paid to the deceased’s family after Bongede’s home was razed by angry relatives of the victim.
Sentencing is expected to be handed down on Feb 1.