No record of victim’s age sees sex case dismissed

Two men from the Malalaua area of Gulf Province had their case of sexual assault against a minor in Port Moresby dismissed because the court did not have evidence of the victim’s age.

The two men were charged with sexually penetrating a 13-year-old girl on July 6, 2014, in Port Moresby. However, that case was dismissed today.

The court in dismissing the case for insufficient evidence said in instances of offence committed under section 229(a) of the PNG Criminal Code, sexual offences and crimes against children’s act, evidence of the complainant’s age is an important feature.

In this case, there was no evidence in the form of either a clinic book or a civil registry issued birth certificate to show the victim was 13-years-old at the time the offence was committed.

Another feature the court relied on in dismissing the case was the level of written English on the statement said to be written by the victim.

The court was told the victim had stated in her written statement that she was not in school however, her statement was written in ‘perfect English’. There was also no evidence of translation cause to show that her statement was given in another language.

“She says she doesn’t go to school yet she wrote the statement in perfect English,” Magistrate Cosmas Bidar said.

“The law under section 94(2)(c) of the District Court Act says before the court admits a witness statement, the court shall be satisfied that the person said to make the statement has read and understood, and if unable to read, must interpret in a language that he/she understands. The statement by the complainant does not comply with this requirement.

“The doctor’s report is also very hard to read. And other witness statements do not assist the prosecution case much,” he said.

In assessing the evidence in totality, the court ruled the evidence was clearly insufficient to put defendants to stand trial.

Loop file picture.

Sally Pokiton