Soldiers denied bail

The National,Thursday June 16th, 2016

TWELVE soldiers convicted of mutiny for disobeying orders last year have been remanded at a separate facility at the Bomana prison in Port Moresby pending their sentencing.
A court martial, presided by Defence Force judge Justice Panuel Mogish, ruled against the soldiers’ application for bail yesterday because it found that they did not provide exceptional circumstances that would grant them bail after their conviction.
The soldiers, through their lawyer Captain Wesley Dickson, applied for bail last Wednesday on the grounds that they had a good background, having served in the force for six and 35 years, they were concerned about their families’ welfare, they needed to be out on bail to prepare their pre-sentence reports and custody facilities were poor.
The court ruled that the grounds did not amount to exceptional circumstances as required by law.
The court found that the soldiers’ concerns about family welfare were genuine as many of the accused and prisoners always faced that and it was not an extraordinary reason.
Mogish said during the period of disobedience by the soldiers, they did not “for one moment” thought about the consequences of their actions on their families’ welfare.
He said the Supreme Court made it clear that the grounds of family welfare did not amount to exceptional circumstances to grant bail after conviction.
He said the pre-sentence report or other reports could be done while a person was in custody or out on bail.
He also said precedents had been set in previous cases in which soldiers convicted of mutiny were remanded and imprisoned in civilian correctional institutions.
Major Edimani Benjamin, Warrant Officer Ludwig Miugle, Sergeant Amos Kaupa, Sergeant Mairi Mairi, Corporal Henry Worihu, Warrant Officer Melerot Robin, Warrant Officer Scotty Kaule, Sergeant Alex Agiru, Sergeant Joel Yapanga, Sergeant Urban Guria, Corporal Walter Waimi and Private Philip Kiak were convicted of mutiny early this month for disobeying lawful orders between Aug 19 and Dec 28 last year at Komo in Hela.
They were part of a platoon that was deployed following a  National Executive Council’s decision in 2014 to provide security for the ExxonMobil Komo camp.
Numerous command directives were issued between Aug 19 and Dec 28 last year by the authorities for them to withdraw from Komo and return to Port Moresby.
The soldiers ignored the orders which resulted in a forceful extraction of some of them on Dec in Komo.