A court in Papua New Guinea has ordered the State to pay more than K10 million (US$3.5 million) to a tribe whose properties were damaged in a police raid 16 years ago.

Justice David Cannings made the ruling in the Waigani National Court last week.


He ordered the State to pay K10,029,215 to 1687 members of the Gene tribe in Kerowagi, Chimbu.

Each member is to receive K5000 (approx US$1,570) for the damage to their properties, plus K945 (US$298) each as interest.

Chimbu police officers and members of the Barawagi Correctional Centre conducted a series of raids between August and September in 2000 and destroyed homes and properties.

Cannings said the purpose of the raid was to arrest those involved in a break-in at the Barawagi armoury.

Cannings said the operation was successful because most of weapons stolen were recovered and suspects arrested.

But he said police officers also damaged properties belonging to the villagers.

Cannings said Alphonse Willie, on behalf of the tribe, started court proceeding against the constabulary and the State.

He said for some reason unknown to the court, Willie did not pursue the matter until he decided to do so several years later.

On Aug 10, 2006, the court ordered Willie to reduce the claim to a statement of claim which was filed on Jan 26 2007 and served on the constabulary and the State.

The case again for some unknown reason went into hibernation until it was revived last year.

Cannings ordered the State to pay the plaintiffs. THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS [/restrict]