A landmark decision that awarded 1.2 million kina in compensation to 3000 Markham villagers abused by police 18 years ago has been rejected bythe people.
They’re now takingthe matter tothe Supreme Court on grounds that no punitive measures were taken againstthe policemen involved and thatthe compensation isn’t sufficient.
A raid by police fromthe Eastern Highlands left hundreds of men, women and children physically and psychologically scarred.
“They burnt down every home and attack villagers,” said Soni Maraba, a local.
The incident started from a clash betweenthe villagers andthe crew and passengers of an Eastern Highlands bound bus who was allegedly drunk.
“The bus not running smooth on its lane and nearly bumped into people onthe road side, so a boy got a stone and threw it atthe bus…three days laterthey came and attacked our village,” explained Soni.
Eastern Highlands Police acted outside oftheir area of operation and raidedthe villagers.
Geame Saunam wasthen 28-years-old. He was detained and tortured by police along with many thers.
“Thirty of us have been badly hurt&hellipthey used knife,they forced us to walk on our knees,they pulled our noses upwards,” said Geame.
Marconi Igis wasthen 20-years-old. He was also tortured by police and forced to run with several thers for six kilometers.
“They hit our backs and legs with an axe. Later,they took us to Mutzing Station and told us to sit in a circle, and we did. Then,they hit our backs again with a thick wood…They treated us like criminals,” described Marconi.
Many ofthe men and women are now intheir mid-forty’s and are still traumatized bythe event.
Last month, after nearly two decades,the National Court finally handed down a decision awarding 1.2 million kina in damages tothe villagers.
However, Soni Maraba who has been inthe forefront ofthe court battle saysthe police weren’t punished enough.
“The police weren’t penalized for whatthey did…so we need take it tothe Supreme Court to futher this case against those rogue police,” said Soni. “The district lLeadersat that time didn’trsquo;t take ownership ofthe case,” said Paul Isikiel, Markham MP.
At a meeting last Friday,the people decided to go tothe Supreme Court to appeal for the decision.
Lawyer Peter Kuman will be seeking a Supreme Court Review next week.
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