18 Apr 2014

Inquest releases findings into missing scientists in PNG

11:35 am on 18 April 2014

A coronial inquest into five scientists who disappeared off Papua New Guinea's West New Britain has concluded that 3 members of the group are dead but that two others are either dead or still alive.

The scientists had been undertaking research for the Medical Institute when they disappeared in August, 2011.

The 3 month inquiry by coroner Lawrence Kangwia concluded the 3 male scientists, including a crew member of the boat they travelled on, are presumed dead.

But he added that the two women and the relative of the group's team leader, Jerry Wani, are either dead or still alive.

Mr Kangwia also recommends the police immediately set up a fresh investigation team from outside of West New Britain, to follow-up on leads and suspects named, including Mr Wani, and take action quickly.

EMTV reports the conclusion the male scientists and the crew member of the boat are dead stems from evidence in the inquiry.

From evidence heard and received, two scenarios were considered to be the likely cause of the demise of the missing persons.

These were the possibility, that the persons met their fate in bad weather or the possibility of foul play.

Based on evidence received, including the body of the boat operator, Coroner Kangwia, however, said the boat and its passengers did not perish in bad weather, pointing to foul play.

He says the two missing female scientists' disappearance, appears identical, and believes they are either dead, or alive.