By MIRIAM ZARRIGA
EIGHT detainees in the Goroka police cell ripped out roofing iron between 3am and 4am on Monday and set off for freedom.
Eastern Highlands police commander Supt Michael Welly said the eight men tore out sheets of iron, went down the side of the cell, cut through the fence between the station and a pre-school and made their way out.
“Two have appeared for their first mention, two have yet to be charged by police in Asaro, one is yet to be charged by police in Goroka and another two are yet to be charged,” he said.
“The guards realised (their absence) when they checked the cell and reported the matter.”
Supt Welly said that wasn’t the first time that the station had seen a detainee escape from the cell.
“In 2017, a detainee named Kukudam escaped from the police cells,” he said.
“He was later apprehended and appeared before the court.
“When he was questioned, he stated that the cell’s condition was unhealthy and that made him want to leave.
“At the time, the National Court ordered police officers to explain in court and verbally issue orders to the then-police commissioner Gari Baki, ACP Northern command and the then-Eastern Highlands commander, late Chief Supt Alex N’Drasal, to do inspection and a report for maintenance.
“From my understanding, inspections were carried out (and) arrangements for maintenance were put in place but there was no form of maintenance and the cells were never condemned.
“The logistics division was tasked to fix it but the work never got off the ground due to funding constraints and was left unattended to this date.
“I will endeavour to get reports put together and forward them to our headquarters.
“(I will) perhaps seek support from our local leaders to assist in this important facility.
“A lot of efforts are made by my men in capturing criminals and detaining them, only to find that they have snuck out under the cover of darkness.
“The police station commander had convened preliminary investigations into the breakout.
“I only await his investigation report to be finalised on this issue for me to further determine what actions to take on the duty policemen.
“It’s a wake-up call now for us to immediately restore the cells so that offenders are detained and brought before the courts for justice to prevail.”
By MIRIAM ZARRIGA