The National, Friday, May 6, 2011
NOTORIOUS criminal and prison escapee Fidelis Wate, a wanted man regularly featuring on the Crime Stoppers, was killed as he tried to evade a police dragnet in Namatanai on Wednesday.
Members of the Kokopo taskforce stormed a house at Karu village in the early hours of Wednesday and shot Wate on his calf as he tried to flee.
East New Britain provincial police commander Sylvester Kalaut said Wate had been trying to reach for a gun hidden under a house when he was shot in the leg.
Wate, in his 40s, from Malaguna Number 2 in Rabaul, was serving a five-year jail term for armed robbery when he and eight others escaped from Kerevat jail last July.
Police recovered a “skilfully-crafted home-made shot gun”.
Wate was taken to Namatanai hospital for treatment but died there.
His body was ferried on a police boat to Kokopo and transported to the Vunapope hospital mortuary yesterday.
Wate’s death brings to three the number of escapees who have died since police launched a major operation last July to recapture the eight hardened prisoners who broke out of the Kerevat jail on July 21last year.
Kalaut said after the Kerevat jail break, one escapee, Luke Sekewi, was bashed to death by angry villagers when he tried to rape a minor at Vunapalandin last year.
Of the eight escapees, three have died and four have surrendered voluntarily.
The only escapee still on the run is Takal Waninara, 34, who had been serving time for murder.
Waninara is from Vunadavai, in North Coast, Rabaul.
Kalaut appealed to the people of Kokopo and Rabaul to help police in their search for Waninara.
He said on April 22, Anton Marko had been killed in a dawn raid at Kerevat.
Kalaut said he had been serving a life term for a double murder at Malaguna in 2007.
While on the run Marko’s crime spree continued and included the 2007 massacre near Makada Island, in Duke of York, when two women and six men travelling in a boat were ruthlessly gunned down at sea by nine armed men aboard two outboard motor dinghies.
Kalaut said so far six suspects had been arrested for the murder of the boat operator and passengers near Makada Island.
The men are waiting to be sentenced by the National Court for the multiple murders.
“I commend my members for their commitment and dedication and I extend my gratitude to the people of East New Britain for their understanding and assistance,” Kalaut said.
He urged prison authorities to boost security at the Kerevat jail to curb jail breaks.