The National, Tuesday October 22nd, 2013
POLICE officers allegedly caught smuggling a large quantity of alcohol into Hela and inciting trouble between the constabulary and Papua New Guinea Defence Force troops will face the court and police administration.
Highlands divisional commander Teddy Tei made the announcement yesterday at the Tari Police Station during an emergency meeting with leaders of the two forces, Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape, Hela provincial administration representative Dr Hamiya Hewali and community leader, George Tagobe.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Tei announced an investigation team to be headed by Insp Mark Kamiak from the Highlands divisional command and the defence force’s Col Quadrat Larawin to get to the bottom of the incident.
They have to report in 14 days.
Tei said 10 policemen were already locked up in the Tari police cells and several more may be called in.
The meeting yesterday was held to defuse the tense situation between members of the two disciplinary forces in Tari.
The stand-off followed an attack by policemen on a group of soldiers outside the Bank South Pacific agency in Tari last Friday. The attack was allegedly in retaliation over soldiers arresting four policemen for allegedly smuggling 70 cartons of beer and a carton of spirits in a police vehicle at a roadblock at Mt Ambua over a week ago.
Defence force officers told the meeting the arrest of the four policemen and their illegal alcohol at Ambua on Oct 14 was the second incident.
The first intercept of policemen allegedly smuggling alcohol was at Poroma, Southern Highlands, several weeks ago.
Tei and Hela provincial police commander Jimmy Onopia apologised to the defence force personnel and the people of Hela for what transpired.
Tei said the stand-off between the two forces stemmed from the illegal activities of a rogue minority.
Tei said the policemen being held in Tari would be suspended from duty and a formal reconciliation ceremony would be held after investigations had been completed.