Allegations of police violence amid land dispute

The Sanma Police Patrol in Luganville has called for calm to allow for a good investigation of an alleged case of police brutality.

The Police Commissioner has put two police investigators onto the case and they are now in Luganville.

The allegations of police brutality came after Luganville police officers arrested three suspects in Big Bay Bush, Santo.

One of the suspects a pastor then made allegations that the police officers had assaulted him by beating his head with a baton and forcing him to eat dirt and grass.

The Santo Magistrates Court has now remanded a total of 16 Big Bay Bush suspects on possible charges of unlawful assembly, assault, riot, theft and obstructing police officers.

Commander Chief Inspector of Sanma Police Patrol, Rexton Langon, made the call asking the people of Luganville to remain calm to allow the investigation to take place so justice could be achieved.

Mr Langon says, “This does not stop policing, police will continue to raise awareness in communities around Luganville concerning different crimes.”

He says in regard to the allegations of brutality against the police and questions about police actions, he wanted to assure the public that “the law is for everyone”.

“The Police Act states that if any officers go beyond their powers, they will surely face the consequences,” he said.

Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs, is in charge of the police. He says if there is evidence of police brutality, it will be dealt with in accordance with the recently amended Police Act.

Last week, the Parliament amended the Police Act so that police officers found to have committed intentional assault while on duty can be removed from their jobs and the force.

The Commander Chief Inspector says the Magistrates Court has given police 14 days to finish their investigation on the possible charges against the Big Bay Bush suspects. The court will sit again on 9 July for a Preliminary Inquiry of the case.

Mr Langon says of the 16 of the Big Bay Bush suspects, it was a pastor who made the allegations that the police officers who arrested had assaulted him by beating his head with a baton.

The pastor was reportedly admitted to the Northern District Hospital to have his head stitched up.

Also among the suspects was a chief and a number of young people from Big Bay Bush.

Last Friday, around 15 police officers from the Sanma Police Patrol went up to Big Bay Bush to calm an alleged land dispute situation. Allegations were made that the suspects had burned down eight houses, blocked road access for the victims to their gardens and killed their animals.

The Sanma police patrol allege when police attended the disturbance the suspects attacked them with spears, knifes and stones.

The police claim, they had to use force to calm the situation and arrest the suspects.

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