By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK
NINE murder suspects who appeared in a court on Tuesday have again escaped from police custody, four months after they were arrested in an expensive operation.
Assistant Police Commissioner John Maru, the southern region acting police commander, said the nine escaped from the Popondetta police cell in Northern after appearing in the District Court.
It closely follows the escape of “notorious criminal” Tommy Baker Maeva last week while on a medical check-up at the Port Moresby General Hospital.
He was guarded by two prison guards at the time. It was Maeva’s second escape and the public in Alotau have been warned that he is dangerous.
“I’m now calling on residents in Popondetta not to habour them as they are dangerous,” Maru said of the nine.
Maru said acting Northern police commander Inspector Kinsley Silas was investigating how the nine escaped after being locked up at the police station to await transportation back to Biru prison.
The nine are Moses Hoena, Begada Kevida, Rommley Dau, Uno Pobi, Michael Pobi, Abuai Pobi, Oriso Maiavore, Samuel Puralae and Patrick Palugupu. They are charged with willful murder and being in possession of dangerous weapon.
He said the nine were arrested at Kira in June after the Sohe District Development Authority gave K90,000 to fund the police operation that led to their arrest.
“These suspects have been involved in murder and rape in a remote area in Sohe between Morobe and Northern. They were brought in, charged and detained at Biru prison,” Maru said. They escaped at about 3pm on Tuesday.
“They were locked up at the police station cells after returning from the courthouse. They escaped from the cells before being transferred back to Biru prison.”
He said no one saw them when they left the cell.
“It was during a head count at 7am (on Wednesday) when police on the morning shift discovered that they were missing,” Maru said. An officer at Popondetta, requesting anonymity, said Sohe MP Henry Amuli who allocated the K90,000 for the manhunt resulting in their arrest in June would not be happy.
“His DDA had funded K90,000 for the operation to recapture these suspects,” the source said.
“It was not an easy operation in that remote area. It was risky. The suspects were armed and dangerous.”
By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK