Archive for prisons

Heads role over PNG prison breakouts

Posted in Corruption - general with tags , on January 22, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

AAP: Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Michael Somare has stripped the jails minister of his portfolio while the prison chief has reportedly been sacked after a mass breakout of some of the country’s toughest criminals.

Last week, after 12 prisoners escaped from Port Moresby’s Bomana jail, Mr Somare admitted the country’s correctional service command was “not in control”.

The Prime Minister’s media unit announced the minister’s sacking in a statement while both PNG’s national newspapers yesterday reported Correctional Services Commissioner Richard Sikani had also been sidelined.

“The Prime Minister had met with minister Tony Aimo on January 19 and informed him that he will remain minister, but without portfolio,” Mr Somare’s statement said.

“The Correctional Services portfolio will be vested with the PM until further notice and after an investigation is carried out.”


Has the Sandline crisis returned to haunt PNG?

Posted in Crime - general with tags , , , on January 21, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

A feud between Forest Minister Belden Namah and mercenary Tim Spicer could be behind the recent jailbreak from Bomana prison’s top security unit.

Rumors are circulating around the PNG capital, Port Moresby, that the UK mercenary Tim Spicer has returned to PNG, 10 years after being expelled for leading plans to use South African mercenary forces to end the bloody cvil war on Bougainville.

Spicer brought a team of mercenaries into PNG in 1999 under a $36 million contract with the PNG government to quash the rebellion on Bougainville that started when the indigenous population of the island massed in opposition to the copper mine and closed it down.

Belden Namah, now PNGs Forest Minister, was then a Captain in the PNG Defence Force, which was kept in the dark over the governments plans to use mercenary soilders and revolted against the government when it found out what was happening.

Captain Namah, now MP for Vanimo-Green River, played a key part in Operation Rausin Kwik  – the secret Defence Force operation that saw Spicer and his mercenaries rounded up and disarmed on the night of Marach 16, 1999. Ten days later Prime Minister Julius Chan was forced to resign.

But now, it is claimed, Spicer is back in PNG – and may be looking for revenge.

Spicers return, it is said, has spooked Forest Minister Belden Namah – who has continued to attract controversy despite being granted a pardon in 2000 for his part in the Sandline crisis.

In July last year the Samoa Observer reported that Namah had purchased three properties in the country for a total of US$1.5 million. Namah initially denied the story, but after the Samoan Central Bank announced it was launching an inquiry into possible money laundering offenses, Namah admitted making the purchases but claimed he was operating on behalf of unnamed business associatees.

Now, it is suggested, Belden Namah has financed the jail break from Bomana prison’s top security unit by some of PNGs most hardened and feared criminals, in an attempt to surround himself with a militia to stand up to Spicer.

It may sound crazy – but in PNG the crazy has a habit of coming true – as the original Sandline affair demonstrated only too clearly.

Somare responsible for jail breaks

Posted in Crime - general with tags , , on January 21, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

Prime Minister Michael Somare must take personal responsibility for recent jail breaks as he and his government ignored blatant warnings of a crisis in the prison service.

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, Michael Somare, was warned in October last year that serious maladministration and corruption in the Correctional Services department would result in jailbreaks.

However, Somare and his National Alliance government choose to take no action which has resulted in the high profile escape of 12 prominent criminals from a top security jail, including some of PNG’s most feared bandits, and a total of 115 prison escapes in the last month.

The brief given to the government in October highlighted the breakdown in the administration of jails across the country; an emerging culture of close relationships between prisoners and prison guards; misuse of funds; poor living and working conditions for prison staff; and a breakdown in relationships between senior commanders.

Somare and his government took no action on the warnings despite the clear need for an urgent response.

115 prisoners have escaped in the last four weeks

Posted in Crime - general with tags , , on January 20, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

Some 115 hardcore criminals have escaped from four major prisons in the country in the last four weeks, according to the Post Courier newspaper.

The escapees were serving time in Barawagi prison in Chimbu, Buimo prison in Morobe, Buiebi prison in Southern Highlands and Bomana prison outside Port Moresby.

In the first incident, 11 high risk prisoners “walked” out of the main prison gate at the Barawagi jail in Chimbu and dashed for freedom on December 11 in daytime. A source from the prison informed the Post-Courier that CS warders with the help of local villagers helped recapture six of the escapees but five of them were still at large.

The source had said that the prisoners were all convicted of offences like rape and murder, who simply walked out of the prison when there were no guards around. The prison escape drew sharp criticism from the provincial police commander, Superintendent Jos-eph Tondop over the way the prisoners were left unguarded.

In the second incident, 73 inmates at the Buimo jail outside Lae city took the jail commander Superintendent Samson Jaro hostage and used him as a human shield to make their escape. The inmates include 51 remandees and 22 convicts, most of whom were high risk prisoners.

Reporters were told that earlier that day 10 prisoners escaped and Mr Jaro had gone in to speak to the remaining prisoners but was taken hostage and the second group made their getaway. CS warders however recaptured two and shot one dead.

On Christmas Eve 19 prisoners ran away from the Buiebi jail outside Mendi in the Southern Highlands. However in a combined CS and police operation, three of the escapees were recaptured while the rest remain at large.

Provincial police commander Jimmy Onopia said there were no guards manning the prison at the time of the escape because there were sporting activities that were played at the jail and all the warders were tired and had retired to their homes.

In Western Highlands, CS officers at the Baisu jail outside Mt Hagen prevented what could have been a major jail break by prisoners in October last year. Jail commander Superintendent Simon Sobaim reported a day later that prisoners had disarmed a CS officer and taken him hostage in an attempt to break out of prison. Supt Sobaim said there was a scuffle between the prisoners and the warders when the inmates made their bid to escape. He said the prisoners tried to escape because they were hungry as rations to the prison were stopped by a nearby tribe in a dispute over the contract to supply food to the prison.

Chamber of Commerce alleges corruption in jailbreak

Posted in Corruption - general with tags , , on January 18, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce is questioning how far organized crime has permeated to the very highest ranks of our society following last weeks jailbreak from the top security unit at Bomana prison.

According to the Chamber of Commerce the breakout was executed by educated people with access to finance and resources and relied on “inside involvement”.

Meanwhile, senior officers inside the prison service say that the department is rotten with corruption.

Even, Prime Minister Michael Somare has admitted that the country’s correctional service command has lost control.

But, as usual, Somare has denied his government is responsible for the problem despite the fact that the Corrective Services department lacks facilities, technology and the manpower for effective performance.

Somare and his government have committed AUD 1million to help capture the escaped prisoners and claimed that police are in control of the situation.

Nothing could be further from the truth. PNG’s internal security is on the verge of collapse thanks to the mismanagement and corruption fueled by the Somare led, National Alliance government.

PNG has been bedeviled by mass prison breakouts due to lax security, corruption, a lack of political will and pay disputes involving warders.

Correctional Services Commissioner Richard Sikani (who Somare blames for the whole situation), has said “We just don’t have the funding to do our job. If the government was serious about law and order they would give us the money we need. I am short of manpower and many of the jails were built in the 1950s,” he said.

But Sikani does have questions of his own to answer since the Post Courier newspaper reported a Bomana prison guard previously “sidelined” for helping Kapris escape from hospital was also involved in this latest escape.

Meanwhile, Acting Minister for Internal Security, Sam Abal, has appealed for all recent fugitives from jail – some 150 people in all – to hand themselves in to police. This is a pathetic response from a government minister to the critical situation faced by the Corrective Services department for which he is responsible.

As the Chamber of Commerce has said, heads must roll over the jail break – perhaps the Prime Minister and his Minister for Internal Security should be the first to go?

PNG’s top crim escapes in mass breakout

Posted in Crime - general with tags , , on January 13, 2010 by crimeandcorruptionpng

Papua New Guinea’s most dangerous underworld figure has escaped from jail in a mass breakout of the country’s toughest criminals, only days before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in the country.

William Kapris fled Port Moresby’s Bomana prison on Tuesday morning in a Toyota truck after one warder was taken hostage and a woman posing as a lawyer pulled a gun on guards. A total of 12 prisoners escaped.

Kapris has been accused of a string of high-profile bank robberies, rape, a plane hijacking and the alleged murder of a police officer.

Before being captured in 2008 he had been on the run for eight years after escaping police detention while convalescing at Port Moresby General Hospital.

Last year Australian Federal Police assisting PNG police with a kidnapping intercepted mobile telephone calls to Kapris, who allegedly masterminded the kidnapping from his Bomana cell.

Port Moresby police commander Fred Yakasa told PNG’s Post-Courier he feared a crime spree now “the country’s most wanted and dangerous criminals had escaped”.

“They are probably out with a serious mission,” he said. “Communities can anticipate spates of criminal activities.”

PNG is plagued by continual prison mass breakouts due to lax security, corruption, lack of political will and pay disputes involving warders.

But the latest breakout could not come at a worse time, with Clinton arriving in Port Moresby on Thursday as part of her South Pacific tour, which also takes in New Zealand and Australia.

An unnamed US embassy official told PNG’s National newspaper the country was rated a “high-security risk” due to poor border control. Officially, however, the detailed and tight security measures in place for the visit are described as “normal US diplomatic protocol”.

“If a schedule is leaked out, it will be immediately changed,” an official said.

Acting PNG police commissioner Tom Kulunga said more than 150 hard-core criminals had escaped from PNG jails in the past 12 months, including 40 from Bomana last October.

Earlier this month business leader Jason Tan was shot outside his home several weeks after PNG’s anti-corruption boss, Chronox Manek, survived a similar murder attempt.