By Prudence Auvita Ipape in Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea’s sidelined Secretary for Justice Dr Eric Kwa has been acquitted by the committal court on allegations of dangerous driving causing death.
He was discharged on Thursday because there was insufficient evidence to support the charge.
Police had alleged that he had driven dangerously causing an accident that led to the death of Lucy Shirong.
Presiding Magistrate Hilda Aipi upheld Dr Kwa’s submission that police failed to establish and provide sufficient evidence to have him tried before the National Court. She struck it out for lack of evidence.
In his submissions, Dr Kwa had disputed the allegations of dangerous driving causing death.
He had taken issues with police witness statements and evidence on grounds that the eye witness was the one who was involved in the accident on October 17, 2022, that allegedly took the life of late Lucy Shirong.
Police key witness Maiyawa Abel and his accomplice Yugu Kandea were the ones present during the time of the accident.
Abel told the police that he was driving a Ford Ranger and stopped at the left side of the road to take a break when a white Ford passed by. The white Ford was driven at high speed and veered to the right and then to the left again, which caused the vehicle to overturn several times.
Kwa questioned the statement, saying it was not true in its entirety and argued that he had no reason to veer right because the road in question runs straight for about 3km. The conduct of the arresting officer was imprudent in ignoring Dr Kwa’s evidence that was tiven police.
He further raised issues over the autopsy report provided by Dr Seth Fose with its findings that the cause of death was acute subarachnoid hemorrhage due to blunt force trauma to the head because of the motor vehicle incident.
The autopsy report by Dr Fose is devoid of any consultation with the attending physician, and the treatment that Shirong received while she was admitted to hospital was not considered.
The medical report from the attending physician stated that the deceased was diagnosed with diabetes following her admission and the cause of death was due to complications associated with diabetes and not from any injuries, stated Kwa.
Magistrate Hilda Aipi in her determination upheld the submission by Dr Kwa and struck out the allegation for lack of police evidence.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Malot Asi hinted that the case would be handed to the public prosecutor to see if the accused had a case to answer and make a decision on whether to file for an ex-officio indictment.
Prudence Auvita Ipape is a Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.