By Lucy Kopana – EMTV News, Lae
Magistrate Tera Dawai made his decision in court today and has fined Steven Boting, Alex John, Tinge Dopemuc, and Benny Raymond for assaulting Lae based journalist, Frankiy Kapin.
The men pleaded guilty and were charged with a fine of K100.00 for each charge brought before the courts amounting to K300.00 fine for each defendant. These charges included assault, drunk and disorderly behaviour and threatening.
The Magistrate said however that the K300 court fine will be settled by the K300 bail that they paid to be released after they were arrested and charged two weeks ago.
The four men led by the Governor’s project officer, Steven Boting, assaulted Mr. Kapin whilst he was attending an event at Erap. This was over media reports, they said, were ‘negative’ against the Governor, Ginson Saonu.
Mr. Boting also issued threats against journalists Sylvester Gawi of NBC and, Julie Badui Owa of EMTV.
The police prosecutor told the court today that the medical report confirmed that the victim sustained injuries further adding that if it was not for the victim’s colleague and locals at Erap, who disrupted the assault, Mr Kapin would have faced far worser injuries.
He also said that it was an unprovoked attack and the gGvernor’s officers would have been in a better position to uphold the law and not use violence.
The prosecutor requested that the court use its discretion to make its decision.
Magistrate Dawai said the men’s status as Governor’s staff or the profession of the victim would not influence his decision in court.
Steven Boting speaking on behalf of himself and his three acquaintances admitted to the charges further apologising for their actions.
He further added, however, that they were aggrieved by the reports of Nasuapum road accident that stated that the Governor’s protocol officer was driving the Land Cruiser 5 door vehicle which was involved in the accident.
Mr Boting said media houses requested for interviews regarding these allegations, however, after the initial report, the Governor’s officers started receiving threats from relatives of victims of the car crash.
The Governor’s officers requested an apology from media houses in Lae, specifically from Post Courier for the reporting that the vehicle was linked to the Governor’s office, however, he said an apology was not given.
Mr. Boting said this was the reason for the assault on Mr Kapin two weeks ago.
Mr. Boting appealed in court today saying that after the incident, a picture of him was edited and posted on social media drawing a lot of negative comments about their actions as officials front the governor’s office.
He said this was enough punishment because his reputation had already been tarnished enough through mainstream and social media.
The magistrate said he had taken note of Mr Boting’s apology and also the prosecutors appeal to give the men maximum penalty.
Magistrate Dawai reiterated that the court’s decision would not be influenced by either party. He told Mr Boting that as governors officers, they have already painted a bad image on the governor’s office by their actions and also stated that media personnel must report fairly.
In handing down his decision, Magistrate Dawai said failure to pay the set fine would result in each men serving 3 months’ imprisonment.
However, he decided that the K300 court fine would be settled by the K300 bail which they paid 2 weeks ago.
He said, “to make things easier, the K300 bail money will be converted into the court fine”.