by Adelaide Kari – EM TV News, Port Moresby
Newly appointed Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Justin Tkatchenko, has condemned the attack of a couple hiking the Kokoda Track.
The couple were allegedly robbed, tortured, and the female pack-raped early on Monday morning.
“This is a barbaric act and I would like to say that I condemn this attack of these two innocent tourists,” the Minister said.
Mathew Iovane from England and Michelle Clemens from the United States of America, who are both 31, were attacked on Monday shortly after 8am.
They pair were tied up and robbed of their belongings, then beaten and whipped in what Iovane described as a “cannibalistic act”.
Central Police Commander, Laimo Asi, reported that the two victims were extremely traumatised after the ordeal and were flown to Port Moresby via helicopter at 4pm Monday afternoon.
Clemens is said to have had three fingers sliced to the bone from trying to fight off the attackers.
“I’met with them at the hospital and you could see that they were traumatised,” Tkatchenko said.
After talking with Iovane they were able to establish an understanding of what transpired, with a group of local villagers believed to have assisted in the pair’s escape.
It is understood that one of the porters assisting the couple was involved in the attack, with police indicating that a group of suspects were in the process of being flown to Port Moresby for questioning.
One of the suspects was found with the belongings of the tourists.
The two tourists have already left the country, with the couple indicating that they will continue to assist police with the investigation.
It is understood that the couple were undertaking the Kokoda Track without the use of a licenced tour group or guide.