Relatives await answers

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday June 26th, 2013


THREE months have gone since the gruesome discovery of the mutilated body of a father of two from Wabag, Enga, in remote mountains of Waria, Morobe.

But relatives are still waiting for answers from authorities and local leaders.

One of six local level government areas in Bulolo district, Waria is the only LLG which is not connected by road and is accessible only by air making it one of the most isolated areas in Morobe.

Otto Hepen Joe, who was attempting to trek from Bulolo district into Kerema and then to Port Moresby was believed to be have been murdered between Kasuma and Gara­waria in mid-March.

The 30-year-old’s body was found dumped at a location between Kasuma and Garawaria near a drill site of a mineral exploration company where one of their employees managed to get photographs of his mutilated corpse along with his personal belongings.

After making contact with his family from phone numbers they found in his possession, those disturbing images were brought to the Hepen family.

However, to date they do not know whether he has been buried in the spot his body now lies.

Community leader Enoch Augwi, who spoke on behalf of the Hepen family, said relatives had since March camped in two separate haus krais in Wau, Bulolo and in Lae at the residence of former national power-lifter and prominent Lae-based Engan businessman Michael Mexico.

“Since March, we have been here and have approached the offices of Morobe Deputy Governor and Waria LLG president Morokoi Gaiwata, Morobe Governor Kelly Naru, the ACP Mamose, the police minister and Morobe provincial police commander.

“We have also approached the Wabag district administrator’s office, the law and order principal’s office, our provincial police commander and sought advice from our lawyer, we have been asking these people to come talk with us,” he said.

“Until now, we  do not know where exactly the body is or where they have buried him and all we want is for the authorities to retrieve the body and bring it back to us, we have approached every office of authority we know of but there has been no response yet,” Augwi said.

He said in Engan culture they did not target innocent people apart from tribal enemies and did not mutilate the face of a victim but sent word to his family to recover the body for proper burial.

Morobe provincial police commander Supt Leo Lamei said the police were aware of the murder but could not do anything yet as there was lack of funding to organise and deploy police officers into Waria.

He said the only means to get to Waria was by a helicopter and it was hard to trek into the Waria LLG.