18 May 2004

PNG court accused of bias

3:22 pm on 18 May 2004

Court officials in Papua New Guinea have been accused of bias, after it was decided an Australian man arrested for the alleged shooting of his wife, should be granted bail.

Russell Hutchins was arrested last week after he allegedly shot his Papua New Guinean wife, Sylvia Hutchins, at close range with a pistol following an argument at their Port Moresby home on May the eighth.

PNG's National Court last week released Hutchins on a 3,400 US dollar bail.

He was ordered to pay an additional 170 US dollar police bail for being in possession of an unlicensed firearm.

The chairman of PNG's Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee, Lawrence Kalinoe, says Hutchins should not be treated any differently to other people arrested for similar crimes, simply because he was an expatriate.

Mr Kalinoe says the use of firearms in domestic disputes was unacceptable and did not warrant the granting of bail.

He says the use of a firearm in a domestic argument shows disregard for human life, let alone a spouse.