Judges dismiss appeal of three men on death row


A FIVE-MAN Supreme Court bench has dismissed the appeal by three men on death row against their convictions and sentences.
The bench consisted of Justice Derek Hartshorn, Justice Les Gavara-Nanu, Justice Panuel Mogish, Justice Fraser Pitpit and Justice Lawrence Kangwia.
The three men on death row were Botchia Hagena, 44, from Duke of York Islands in East New Britain, Peter Taul, 39, from Pilapila in East New Britain and Tobung Paraide, 43, also from Pilapila.
They were each convicted on eight counts of wilful murder and sea piracy and sentenced to death in July 2011. They were found guilty of killing eight passengers on a boat in East New Britain waters.
The five judges ruled that the trial judge at the National Court in Kokopo did not err in his judgment and that he had carefully analysed and assessed the evidence before handing down the sentences on the three men.
The court heard that on the afternoon of Sept 26, 2007, an outboard motor dinghy named Palex left Kokopo for West Coast Namatanai.
On board were Ria Alphonse, Ismael Tibo, Anastasia Bolagas Maguri and her husband Eremas Bokot Maguri, Bustaman August, Reagan Kiapmur and crew members ToValaun Lauvo and Mathilda Maivon.
While travelling between Kokopo and West Coast Namatanai, Hagena, Taul, Paraide and two others armed with guns and bush knives held up the boat and passengers. They had been traveling ahead but when the dinghy approached, they blocked off the escape route.
One of them shot the boat operator in the back killing him instantly.
Kiapmur was also shot dead when he tried to operate the dinghy. The passengers were then killed and their cargo taken.
Only the bodies of Anastasia and Tibo were recovered. The rest were presumed dead.