Locals cry foul over Kasieng’s suspension

National, Normal

The National- Tuesday, January 25, 2011

 WEST Sepik provincial police commander Sakawar Kasieng has been suspended from duties.

The notice of suspension, signed by acting Deputy Police Commissioner Fred Yakasa, was served on Kasieng by Northern divisional commander ACP Giossi Labi late yesterday morning.

However, local police sources in Vanimo last night described the suspension as “unfair and a slap in the face of hardworking personnel on the ground”.

According to the service notice, Kasieng was sidelined following alleged degrading statements he made in the media over operation Sunset Merona and the beating of a local traffic policeman at the hands of four task force members now in the border province.

Kasieng had demanded that the four culprits be handed over to local police to be charged with attacking the traffic policeman. 

However, this did not take place and the PPC went to the media to express his frustration.

As of last night, the four task force members were still walking around freely.

Kasieng’s other charge was the alleged closure of the Vanimo police station last Tuesday, which only lasted for a few hours and was reopened after the joined task force commander had assured local police that the four men suspected of beating up the local policeman would be brought in for questioning and charged where appropriate.

However, that had not happened in the past seven days.

Yakasa, when confirming the suspension, said no station commander had the authority to threaten to close a local police station. 

“This is a management matter and should be kept at that level and not brought out in the public,” he added. 

He said serious security issues had stemmed from the lack of command in restoring law and order in the province. 

A parade will be held today to introduce the acting PPC, Chief Insp Tobby Hamago, formerly of North Fly.

Local police sources said the suspension was not in order because Kasieng’s actions resulted from what was done to one of his men.

“As the head of the local police in West Sepik, he spoke out in defence of his men after his request for the four suspects to be brought in for questioning fell on deaf ears.

“Acting Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie should have sided with Kasieng, but he did not. 

“Something is terribly wrong here,” a source, speaking by phone from Vanimo, said.

Meanwhile, Sunset Merona had entered phase two of its operations after the completion of all surveillance and intelligence collection. 

“Executing identified targets and illegal activities within the province started last Sunday.”

Reports said a number of houses belonging to West Papuans residing at Yako village were torched as part of the operation.

Locals said these groups of people were long-term residents of the township.