10 Oct 2011

PNG landowners say police beatings at behest of logging company

8:18 pm on 10 October 2011

Landowners have accused Papua New Guinean police of conducting raids and beatings in East New Britain province at the behest of a logging company.

West Pomio landowner Paul Palosualrea says police attacked villagers with fanbelts and sticks at midnight last Thursday before locking up some in shipping containers.

He says the police, under the influence of alcohol, raided the village, burst on all the elderly men in the village and beat them up.

Mr Palosualrea says the police had removed road blocks set up by the landowners to protest logging company Gilford Limited's acquisition of land last year - a move the landowners say was fraudulent.

Other villages in the district were raided on Friday and Saturday.

In a letter of complaint to police, non-governmental organisation, the Eco Forestry Forum accused the police of harassing, attacking and arresting youths without lawful reason.

The Forum's Kenn Mondiai says they've been told the police assaulted local landowners who had gone public on the illegal dealings of the logging company.

PNG's acting police commissioner Tom Kulunga has issued a statement saying he had ordered an immediate investigation into the allegations.