The National, Wednesday, April 27, 2011
A YOUTH was beaten to death near Kaimari village in Kutubu, Southern Highlands, over the Easter weekend.
The youth, Alex Epil, 20, from Nipa, was allegedly beaten by police during an operation carried out to burn down illegal settlements in the area.
The deceased, who lived most of his life in Kutubu, was trying to save his goods from his store when he was bashed by policemen.
He was taken to the Pimaga rural hospital the next day where his bruises were treated.
But his condition did not improve and he was transferred to Mendi Hospital last Friday but died in the early hours of Saturday morning from internal bleeding.
His relatives from Benaria, Poroma, Nipa and Mendi are now calling for an explanation from Oil Search and the Moro police, saying their actions had caused a young aspiring businessman to lose his life.
Many landowners in Kaimari are blaming the resource developer for supporting the police operation.
They are claiming that the Moro police gave a 14-day warning last Monday and Tuesday for the settlers to move out.
They said that the police raid was so sudden it took everyone by surprise.
“The action by police is illegal and contrary to their verbal notice.
“Some settlers like the late Epil are our relatives and forcing them off our customary land is so egotistic by the resource developer,” a landowner in Kaimari said.
Epil hails from Poya village in Nipa district but has traditional ties with Kaimari, Benaria, and Poroma and as far as Mendi.
His relatives and their leaders will be escorting his body back to Moro tomorrow.
His relatives said that would be a peaceful exercise to show to police the resource developer that their actions had taken the life of unwary tribesmen.
They said if the planned meeting did not eventuate between Oil Search and police at Moro, his relatives planning to block sections of the road near Mendi, Poroma and Nipa.
Moro police and Oil Search security are monitoring the grieving relatives at Kaimari.
“The Nipa people are known for their road blocks, guns and tribal fights in Southern Highlands and Oil Search and the Police Department must cautiously deal with this situation and arrest those involved in the bashing of the youth” one landowner from Kaimari said.