By ELIZABETH VUVU
EAST New Britain’s new residential judge Justice Don Sawong has expressed concern over the long list of unexecuted bench warrants stretching back to 1989.
“Before coming here (to East New Britain) three weeks ago, I studied the statistics of the cases pending before the National Court, focusing on the criminal list which has 277 cases.
“Of particular concern to me was the long list of unexecuted bench warrants, going back to 1989.
“There are 169 suspected serious crime criminals on the run, living amongst the community.
“Some of them have been charged with very serious crimes such as murder and robbery,” Justice Sawong said in his address at the opening of the legal year in Vunamami United church yesterday.
He said it was crucial that police and Correctional Services officers treat bench warrants as a priority and put the suspects in jail.
“Now is not the time to point fingers, but this particular issue is of concern to me,” he said.
Justice Sawong urged commanders and commissioners to allocate the necessary resources so that the policemen and women on the ground could nab the fugitives.
He also appealed to ward councillors, pastors, priests and the public to do their part by assisting or informing police to recapture the suspected criminals.
Justice Sawong, from Kabwum in Morobe province, was assigned to ENB to help the current residential judge Justice Salatiel Lenalia to reduce the backlog of cases.
Justice Lenalia, in welcoming his counterpart, said the National Court in Kokopo had the privilege of having a second judge.
He urged police officers and both private and State lawyers involved in criminal cases to ensure their clients’ cases were completed within a reasonable time.