24 Dec 2002

Judge in PNG mutiny trial defends sentences

4:24 pm on 24 December 2002

The judge who last week sentenced 24 soldiers on mutiny charges says an army officer has been contemptuous of the court in criticising the sentences.

The 24 were charged after a siege at the Moem army barracks in Wewak last March.

They were sentenced to terms from 15 years to 9 months.

The Post courier newspaper reports that the sentences have been attacked as "rubbish" by the base commander Lt Col Willie Janguan who says they were Christian decisions not military decisions.

Col Janguan says the 24 should have received the maiximum penalty, which is death.

But Judge Justice Gibbs Salika defends the sentences, saying it was based on evidence brought before the court and the submissions of both the prosecution and defence counsel.

He says the three who were given nine months, had played a key role in defusing the stand off along with Col Janguan, who has now gone "around their back to stab them"