Fifth accused in Tatana shooting seeks bail

The fifth accused that was arrested and charged for his alleged involvement in the Tatana shooting on January 17, 2015, has gone before the National Court seeking bail.

38-year-old Jeffery Sheekiot of Sumusamu village, Bogia, Madang, and his lawyers appeared before Justice Sir Bernard Sakora this morning where a bail application was moved. A decision is expected at 2.30pm today.

He was arrested on July 28 in Port Moresby and has been in custody since.

He is now asking the court for bail on the main ground that he has been a police officer for 10 years and there will be a likelihood of threats against him while in custody.

His lawyers said he has incarcerated others in Bomana during the course of his duty and there will be a possibility of threats against him.

State, on the other hand, opposed the bail application saying the likelihood of Sheekiot being threatened is a speculation and he has to show exceptional circumstances to be released on bail.

State also opposed bail and submitted that the court should use its discretion and not grant bail until the matter comes to trial.

It was also brought before the court’s attention that Sheekiot, whist on bail from a previous offense in 2013, breached a term of his bail condition when he allegedly got himself involved in the Tatana shooting.

Both offenses in 2013 and 2015 were allegedly committed during the course of his duty.

Sheekiot is alleged to be among a group of police officers who conducted a raid at Tatana village early last year whist investigating the murder of another man, the late Harold Farapo. During the raid, he, in the company of others, allegedly shot the late Saleh Naime Tom, also known as Charlie Naime.

Four other officers have been arrested since and have been attending court in the District Court. Others allegedly involved are Ian Gunawi of East Sepik Province, Philip Pokop of Manus and Lawrence Sausau, also of East Sepik, and Mariah Johns of Kubalia, Yangoru-Saussia district, East Sepik Province.

They are all on National Court bail while their cases are ongoing at the Waigani District Court.  

Sally Pokiton