Police fear payback for acting PM

National, Normal

The National – Monday, June 20, 2011

PORT Moresby police have increased security around Papua New Guinea’s acting prime minister for fear of a traditional revenge attack after his 21-year-old son was accused of murdering a woman at the family home.
A cordon was thrown around Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal’s house in Port Moresby where police alleged his son, Theo Abal, slashed the throat of a 29-year-old waitress he met in a bar last Monday, police spokesman Supt Dominic Kakas said.
The cultural practice of payback has a long tradition in PNG, with a murder victim’s clan often taking out revenge on the killer or his family.
“It does happen, and we are not saying it won’t happen, so we’ve taken all precautions to protect the acting prime minister,” Kakas said.
“It usually is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but we try to make peace between tribes and, in a lot of instances, common sense prevails,” he said.
Kakas said Theo, the youngest of Abal’s two sons, who was adopted, would be charged with wilful murder.
But first, relatives of the woman, who came from a province more than 100km northwest of Port Moresby, must formally identify her body, he said.
According to Kakas, “the suspect confessed in his statement to having killed the woman”.
Kakas declined to comment on the motive.
Theo, who is unemployed and was living with his father in the house, was arrested at a Port Moresby hotel last Tuesday and remained in police custody.
A guard at the house told police he saw Theo and the woman arrive home in the early hours of last Monday and headed for the garden.
Police said that the guard later heard the woman scream and that Theo confessed to killing her.
Kakas said a kitchen knife found near her body was the suspected weapon.
The acting prime minister said he personally reported the “alleged murder” to Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie last Monday.
He made no comment on his son’s alleged confession, but pledged to cooperate fully.
With Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare in Singapore for ongoing treatment, Abal has been cracking down on ministers seen to threaten his leadership of the governing National Alliance party. – AP