Prisoner Release Scandal Requires Public Inquiry

The Courts have exposed the potential abuse of ‘leave of absence’ (LOA) orders by prison management, which is allowing some of the country’s worst criminals to walk free.

This is an explosive issues. Many of the white-collar criminals locked up in the prison estate made a career from bribing public officials to get unfair privileges. There is a significant risk, unless judicious oversight is used, that they will do the same to dodge meaningful time in prison.

Leave of absences are the custodial equivalent of ‘certificates of inexpediencies’. The latter are used during periods of emergency to circumvent a competitive tender – however, they have been abused by corporate criminals and public officials to award contracts outside of tender, at a bloated price.

Similarly, leave of absences are an exceptional measure, whose use is strictly circumscribed – the question that now needs to be determined is whether they are also being abused to allow wealthy criminals to escape sanction.

According to some recent excellent reporting in the Post-Courier the following individuals have been allowed to serve extended periods of their custodial sentence outside prison:

  1. Eremas Wartoto, misappropriation of K6 million.
  2. Arua Maraga Hariki, two counts of wilful murder.
  3. Paul Pisa, rape of a 14 year old girl
  4. Jeffery Yokopia, uknown.
  5. Philip Kikala, misappropriation of K1 million.
  6. Paul Tiensten, misappropriation of K10 mllion
  7. Dr Theo Yasause, murder.

Chief superintendent Haraha Kiddy Keko claims ‘that of the seven prisoners, all except Mr Tiensten and Dr Yasause, had been granted LOA on medical grounds and that their transfer to hospitals was made with genuine concern for their well-being’.

However, this claim has been placed into doubt by a recent news report* that the ‘ill’ Wartoto was spotted enjoying himself at the Hodava Hotel Bar.

We are also told by Keko that the disgraced National Planning Minister, Paul Tiensten, ‘is currently completing a degree in law at the University of Papua New Guinea while Dr Yasause is studying Information Technology at the International Training Institute’.

Yasause’s alleged flouting of his prison sentence has been an issue that was reported on as far back as 2013.

These are incredible revelations – murderers and corrupt officials walking free to advance their studies, while many law abiding citizens are denied these opportunities*.

These revelations demand a transparent and rigorous inquiry, not another opaque administrative investigation, which is the current solution proposed by the O’Neill government.

Oh yes what ever did happen to that administrative inquiry into an alleged land fraud involving William Duma? It appears key files have been ‘lost’.

Administrative inquiries appears to be the place scandals are sent to be euthanised, rather than exposed.

Unfortunately hyper-links to the Post Courier newspaper are not accessible to readers in PNG. This is a general restriction imposed by the Post Courier which doesn’t allow PNG residents online access to the publication.