By ALPHONSE PORAU
FIVE high-profile prisoners sentenced to long jail terms but allowed out by prison authorities to stay at a hospital have been taken back to prison, a court has been told.
Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika last Wednesday queried why the prisoners were spending their jail terms in hospital, or allowed out to study at tertiary institutions, after the court had sentenced them to jail terms with hard labour.
He ordered Bomana prison authorities to come and explain to the court yesterday why the prisoners were allowed out.
Bomana jail commander Kiddy Keko told Justice Sir Gibbs Salika at the National Court in Waigani, Port Moresby, the five high-profile prisoners who were at the Port Moresby General Hospital were back behind bars following orders by Correctional Services Commissioner Michael Waipo on Jan 10.
He said the five prisoners were Arua Heriki Maraga, Eremas Wartoto, Paul Pisa, Philip Kikala and Jeffery Yakopia. Keko told Sir Gibbs that the prisoners were at the hospital because of their health conditions.
“It was for the prisoners’ well-being that the medical officers had to make a referral for the prisoners to see medical practitioners at the hospital to assess their conditions,” he said.
Keko said the prison management had followed the commissioner’s orders on Jan 10 and took all back to jail.
Public Prosecutor Pondros Kaluwin said the State was informed through CS documents that prisoners Paul Tiensten and Dr Theo Yasause, who were pursuing studies at tertiary institutions, were not in the “medical category”.
Kaluwin said Tiensten (convicted of fraud) and Yasause (convicted of murder) were given a leave of absence by prison authorities.
The court was also told that the National Executive Council had set up an investigation on the matter regarding the prisoners. Sir Gibbs said he did not want to duplicate the matter by setting up another enquiry on the “leave of absence” issue.
He said for the interest of justice, the court wanted the prison authorities to explain why the court orders were not obeyed and prisoners were allowed out of the prison.
“It would be contemptuous in nature and the court was concerned because all the prisoners were sentenced by the court
to serve time in prison,” he said.
Sir Gibbs said all prisoner must be treated the same regardless of their status in society before they were jailed.
“Every prisoner must be treated the same, whether you are a lawyer or a politician,” Sir Gibbs said.
“There is no special provisions for people under the law.
“The system does not set one process for leaders and ministers.
“The laws sees everyone as equal.”
By ALPHONSE PORAU