Madang murder 96 turn Beon into crowded jail

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By DOROTHY MARK
MADANG’s Beon Prison officers are trying to work out how to accommodate the 96 people convicted of murder on Tuesday, as the prison is already overcrowded.
Prison commander Inspector Andrew Polis told The National yesterday that the prison was built for 200 inmates but now had 424.
National Court judge David Cannings on Tuesday imposed the death penalty on eight of the 97 people convicted of killing seven villages four years ago. He also imposed life sentences on 88. One of those convicted died in hospital last month.
The villagers were found guilty on seven counts of wilful murder. They killed seven people at Sakiko village on April 14, 2014.
It was also clarified yesterday that nine of those convicted had escaped while awaiting sentencing, and are still on the run.
Of the nine, one was among those given the death penalty. The remaining 87 were in court to hear their sentences.
Polis said prison officers yesterday began sorting out the 87 who were from villages in the Raho Rawa local level government of Raicoast. Officers had to shift people on remand elsewhere to provide room for the newcomers.
“We made that arrangement to carefully monitor them and prevent them from escaping,” Polis said.
He plans to make a submission in court to request that some be transferred to Bomana.
“The eight on death row will have to go first while we work on the rest,” Polis said.
Polis had after the sentencing requested State counsel Francis Popeu to facilitate the transfer of the prisoners because escaping from Beon was common.
Justice Cannings advised that the request could be made through a separate submission to the court.
Justice Cannings told the convicts, who included an 18-year-old youth, that they could appeal their sentences in the Supreme Court.

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