THE three Correctional Services officers charged with aiding the Jan 12 escape of bank robbery suspect William Nanua Kapris and 11 other high-profiled prisoners from Bomana jail were set free yesterday because the police officer in charge of the case was busy attending a workshop instead of turning up at the Waigani Committal Court to proceed with the case.
Magistrate Fred Tomo said he saw no logic in further adjourning the case when the accused had been in custody since January and the police had been given three months to prepare their cases.
Police should get their priorities right, Mr Tomo said when he threw out the case.
John Weka, 35, of Malalaua in Gulf province; Ambiang Kera, 47, of Morobe province; and Allan Maru, 31, of Rigo, Central province; were ordered to be released, free from all charges brought against them on Jan 20.
Mr Tomo issued the order when the court was informed that the three-month period set for the police file to be completed had expired and police were not ready to proceed.
Police prosecutions had sought further adjournment, informing Mr Tomo that they were unable to obtain instructions from the arresting officer in charge of compiling information because he was attending a workshop at the Bomana Police College.
Mr Tomo threw out the case, saying he did not see any “logic” in the police request for another adjournment.
He said police had sufficient time to prepare their cases and the Bomana workshop was not at all connected with the matter.
“While all this was going on, these accused men stayed locked up with no access to legal aid.
“They have suffered enough even though they remain innocent until proven guilty,” Mr Tomo said.
He ordered the case dismissed and freed Weka, Kera and Maru.
The three prison officers, together with civilian Kimoi Kingsley, 40, of Unggai-Bena in Eastern Highlands province, were charged with aiding and abetting the escape of Kapris and 11 others from Bomana maximum security unit, contravening section 138(a) of the Criminal Code.
It was now up to the Correctional Services Department to decide whether the three would continue as prison guards, Mr Tomo said, adding that his responsibility of dealing with a criminal matter against them was over.
Neither the police prosecutors nor Police Commissioner Gari Baki could be reached for comments.