General Board of Inquiry into Kupiano training tragedy

Minister for Defence, Win Daki has announced the invoking of Section 51 of the Defence Act 1974 and the Amended Defence Act 2009 to establish a General Board of Inquiry into the Kupiano tragedy — a first of its kind training mishap in the PNGDF.

The inquiry will examine the administration, systems and processes of conduct of the military training in the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF), especially in this particular training.

The Investigation Report commissioned by the Commander of the PNGDF will form the basis of the General Board of Inquiry.

Daki says, “I will convene the General Board of Inquiry within (7) seven working days — after the completion of the Investigation Report, by way of Written Notice, specifying the Terms of Reference (TOR), including the appointment of the Chairman and members of the Board.

“I wish to reaffirm Chief of Defence Force's earlier statement to the media that the Board of Inquiry will look at the wider context of which the tragedy occurred and whether systematic failures contributed to the tragic incident.

“It is our responsibility to exercise the duty of care for the soldiers and their families by taking steps to examine every aspect of our Standard Operating Procedures to ensure incidences such as Kupiano incident do not occur again.”

Minister Daki has issued an instruction for Deputy Chief of Defence Force, Commodore Philip Polewara, to cancel his official visit to Australia and remain at Murray Barracks to complete and furnish the investigation report, which will also form the basis of the Board of Inquiry, while Chief of Defence Force is in Lae to attend the Commanders Cup games.

“I have also instructed the Chief of Defence Force to ensure soldiers implicated in the Kupiano tragedy remain in the custody of the Military Police, and not discharged from the Force until the completion of the intent and purpose of the Board of Inquiry.”

Minister Daki further stated, “Once again, I pass my condolences to the families and comrades of the deceased and reaffirm my earlier commitment to provide support to the recovery of the two people injured.

“I appeal to all those affected, including PNGDF soldiers, to remain confident in the military process and the Board of Inquiry to prevent any more occurrences, such as this, in the future.” 

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