By JAMES APA GUMUNO
A MAN from Southern Highlands province has been sentenced to seven years jail for “chopping down” two power pylons that carries power to the huge Porgera gold mine in Enga province.
John Telape admitted to using a hacksaw to bring down the pylons on July 3 this year.
He said he did so to bring to the attention of authorities the plight of his family.
He said they had not benefited from the compensation paid for the use of their land to erect the pylons.
Someone had removed the names of his family members off the list.
The power pylons carry power from Hides gas in Tari to the Porgera gold mine.
Circuit judge Justice Graham Ellis said in his 10-page judgment that the case was regarded as being the worst kind of case for the offence.
Justice Ellis said the consequence of Telape’s conduct was enormous in terms of the number of people affected and financial loss to businesses.
He said that it cost PJV K400,000 to fix the problem, but the financial loss runs into millions of kina.
Justice Ellis told the prisoner that his action sent a message to the entire world that those who invest in the country by spending millions of kina in their business and also pay taxes to government and provide employment opportunity to help develop the local economy can have their investment disrupted by local landowners like himself.
The judge said the court would not be lenient on anyone who disrupts major projects of national significance.
He said this sentence was not just intended to teach this offender a lesson but it was intended to send out warning to others.
Justice Ellis said everyone must understand that this country was governed by laws made by the elected representatives and enforced by the courts.
He said the country should not be allowed to be governed by the sharpest bushknife or in that case, a hacksaw.
Justice Ellis said downing power pylons was “unpatriotic” and damages the reputation of the country.
For pleading guilty, Telape had four years and four months suspended from his sentence.
He is to be on good behaviour for two years after he is released from jail.