JULIA DAIA BORE
BARUNI man, Arua Maraga Hariki, who was sentenced to death by hanging in 2003 for a 2001 double murder in Port Moresby, appeared in the National Court yesterday to be retried for the same offence after a successful appeal to the Supreme Court.
Hariki, who appeared before Justice Panuel Mogish, told the retrial that State witness, John Naime, had lied when giving evidence the previous day (Nov 10) when he said that they were with some others, drinking whiskey in the company of Naime and a couple others under his house at Baruni on the night of the two men’s deaths – March 31, 2001.
“Those are lies, I went straight home,” he told the court.
Hariki’s counsel Oakaiva Oiveka had attempted at telling the court that his client had “no-case” to answer, however, Justice Mogish said that Hariki was the last seen with one of the victims – Heni Aivira – therefore he had “a case to answer”.
At reconvening for the afternoon hearing, Hariki continued with his evidence with cross-examinations from both his counsel Mr Oiveka of the Public Solicitors office and Nicholas Miviri from the Public Prosecutor’s office.
Hariki told the court he had never gone drinking with Naime on previous occasions, only with Naime’s older brother.
He also disputed Naime’s earlier evidence that he had agreed to drop off Naime at his Tatana village; nor was there any disagreements or fights between them.
On Tuesday, Naime, close to tears, gave a vivid account of Aivira’s strangulation at Baruni.
He told the court that when he saw that Aivira, also from Tatana, was not struggling anymore, he fled in fear, running all the way to his village, 2km away.
Naime told the court that Hariki had strangled Aivira after claiming that he was with a group of Tatana people who had beat him up severely on one occasion in the past.
Naime said they had picked up the two would-be victims at Tatana village on Saturday, March 31, 2001, and went to Baruni to continue drinking before the two murders were committed.
He said the drinking session went on until about 1am on Sunday when he witnessed Hariki and another person strangled Aivira.
Naime was so emotional and openly fighting back tears with his head bowed, that the court called a 10-minute adjournment to allow him to compose himself.
Two more witnesses will give evidence today.