By ZEDAIAH KANAU
A FORMER policeman charged with the wilful murder of a betel nut vendor at Rainbow in Port Moresby on independence anniversary day last year has been committed to stand trial in the National Court.
Magistrate Tracy Ganaii, in Waigani Committal Court, committed former Const John Selan Lavona to trial after finding enough evidence against him.
The police case comprised 17 witnesses, the majority of them being betel nut vendors at Rainbow market.
“People who were selling betel nuts that day, they ran closer to observe what was happening and most of them gave a description of police officers,” Magistrate Ganaii said.
“They don’t know your name but they gave a very good description of the policemen who were there.
“Two of the witnesses say they can recognise one face, a policeman who always goes there and chases them.
“It’s like a game, when you come, they run away.
“Policemen goes away, they come back and that has been going on and that’s how they say they recognise one police officer.
“According to them, they say they recognise the driver and you were the driver,” she said.
Magistrate Ganaii told Lavona: “This court does not sit as a trial court to assess what really happen to assess credibility and to assess what you’re saying in your defence is true or not.
“In my view, that’s the matter of the trial court.
“This court is only tasked with prima facie on the face of it.
“Those questions about specific timings, what really happened, are a matter for the trial court.
“I’m satisfied on the prima facie presence of the evidence, that there’s enough evidence by all the witnesses who saw you approach the deceased and pull him with both hands.”
It was alleged that on last Sept 16, the NCD taskforce patrol team raided the Rainbow market. The deceased, Peter Pamben, from Enga, was allegedly chased into the Assemblies of God institution where he tried to climb over a fence to escape.
He got trapped on the sharp edges of the iron fence. An accomplice police officer, Andrew Kupuso, allegedly approached Pamben and struck him with a softball bat while Lavona allegedly pulled him off the fence, causing injuries that led to his death. The case returns on Feb 11 for Lavona’s statement.
By ZEDAIAH KANAU