POLICE officers beating up ordinary people under the disguise of enforcing law and order were becoming too frequent and widespread, a National Court judge said.
Justice Panuel Mogish, made this observation recently when jailing a police officer for 18 months with hard labour for unlawfully assaulting ordinary people when demanding compensation about a personal matter.
Noncent Onge of Mendi, Southern Highlands province, was charge under section 390 of the Criminal Code for assaulting people and demanding compensation.
He was a policeman based in Port Moresby at the time he committed the offence.
The court sitting in Port Moresby was told that on the night of Oct 7, 2005, Onge was assaulted in a fight with fellow Southern Highlanders and had demanded compensation.
The court was told that compensation was agreed on, to be paid after the mourning of a dead relative at the time.
However, Onge and some policemen went to Erima and assaulted people who were selling their goods near a trade store but left when they were paid K1,000.
Onge was arrested soon after and charged when one of the victims reported the matter to the police.
The court found that Onge had behaved in an unprofessional manner.
“It is now becoming a trend in this country to see policemen involved in illegal activities,” Justice Mogish said.
“It is a recipe for disaster and ultimately leads to a state of anarchy.”
The judge said that the “very serious and aggravating circumstances in the matter was the use of police force to settle personal matters.”
“The police force is not owned by you or any individual.
“It is collectively owned by the people of this country.
“Police officers are not above the rule of law.”
Justice Mogish said he was mindful that the accused served in the police force for 11 years and was a first-time offender.
He said a longer jail term would ruin his career and would affect his family, adding that a short and sharp sentence would be appropriate.
Justice Mogish also ordered that the accused be transferred to Mendi prison to serve his sentence.