The families of the victims demanded police arrest and charge the policemen involved.
In a statement, the Royal PNG Constabulary said: “A police officer is now under police custody. He will be formally arrested and charged after formal investigations are completed.
“The Police Investigation is continuing and a Criminal Investigation Division (CID) team from Port Moresby is in the province to deal with the case.”
Acting Provincial Police Commander, Chief Inspector George Bayagau, said the relatives of the victims immediately staged a protest march after a hired 10 seater vehicle used for police operations killed a 39-year-old mother, her five year old child and injured another 24 year old mother and her 10-year-old child at Kwaini on the outskirts of Alotau town, Milne Bay Province.
The hired vehicle was under the command of the Lae Water Police members who were in transit to Port Moresby for the 2018 APEC Leaders’ Summit when the accident happened.
The acting PPC said the victims’ relatives took the situation into their own hands and staged a protest march in town. This resulted in the closure of business operations in the province for two days. One store was damaged but there was no looting, according to Bayagau.
“The relatives of the deceased were stopped by the police officers who talked to them on several occasions not to do a protest march but they did not listen to the instructions. This resulted in four protestors being wounded and admitted to the Alotau General Hospital when police fired shots to disperse the crowd. A policeman was also wounded on his right wrist and taken to the hospital but later discharged after the treatment,” PPC Bayagau said.
Bayagau stated that police took the hard stand because it received intelligence reports that armed criminals were planning to take advantage of the protest to create chaos and loot businesses.
Bayagau said he had spoken to the people of Kwaini settlement where the accident took place and advised the relatives of the victims to follow formal procedures as he will not accept further illegal protest marches.
The PPC said the deceased relatives blocked the Goilani bridge to Kwaini where they cut down big trees and put stones along the road. The PPC used a backhoe to clear the road blockage.
“As of Friday, business houses commenced normal as police presence continues. Police will continue to be available each day to ensure peace and good order is maintained in the province.
“Police manpower has increased as Lae Water Police officers are now in the province to assist us maintain law and order.”
On another related matter, quick response by Milne Bay police saved the lives of the CID team from Port Moresby who were investigating the accident and other cases. It was reported that hard-core criminal and prison escapee Tommy Meava Baker and his gang had tried to gain entry into the Golden Bowl Lodge where the CID team from Port Moresby were residing.
The criminals asked for the CID personnel but were told they were not in the lodge. Police were alerted and rushed to the lodge, forcing Baker and his gang to flee.