By ELIAS LARI
THE father of an inmate shot dead during a mass breakout from Baisu prison on Monday has questioned why it was taking more than two years to determine his son’s case in court.
Peter Aile, from Pabrabuk in the Tambul-Nebilyer electorate of Western Highlands, could not believe that his son Stanley Ponje, 20, was among the eight shot dead by prison officers during the breakout around noon on Monday in Mt Hagen.
Of the 102 who escaped during the lunch hour, eight were shot dead, 28 were recaptured shortly after, and 66 still at large.
Aile said Ponje was arrested in 2017 with two others on a charge of rape. They had since being detained to await the outcome of their case in court.
Aile called on the Government to address the issue of detainees being kept in prison for a long time.
“As a parent I feel that the Government is not addressing this issue properly,” Alie said.
Correctional Services Commissioner Stephen Pokanis said most of the escapees were detainees awaiting the determination of their cases in court.
He said some of them had been waiting for more than 12 months for the court to rule on their cases.
During the opening of the 2020 Legal Year, Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika had urged members of the legal fraternity to come up with new strategies to reduce the number of pending cases before the National and Supreme Courts.
He had also called earlier of the need to “fast track reserved decisions”.
Aile said Ponje was the third eldest of his five children.
When he was told of the prison breakout and shooting, he went to the hospital to find out if it was really Ponje.
He confirmed that it was his body in the morgue.
“Since 2017, I have been going to the jail to visit him.
“It has been an expensive exercise for me and my family,” he said.
Alie said Ponje might have a reason to escape but it did not turn out right.
He said after more than three years of being detained, he was killed while trying to make his way out.
Aile said he did not know where the two other youths arrested with Ponje were.
“We do not know the whereabouts of the two young men detained with Ponje.
“They might have been killed or had escaped,” he said.