The Autonomous Bougainville Government has made a formal request for a Coroner’s Inquest into the disappearance of the ABG Minister for Health and Member for Nissan Constituency Hon. Charry Napto.
Mr Napto and his wife and son are amongst six persons who went missing at sea on July 17th of this year on a boat that was travelling to Nissan Island from Buka Island.
In the last two months the ABG Disaster Directorate together with the Joint Rescue Coordinating Centre, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority Aviation and the PNG National Maritime Authority have exhausted every means possible in their Search and Rescue (SAR) attempts.
Per SAR protocols the recovery and rehabilitation phase comes in after 72 hours to 7 days after which all SAR activity for the missing persons were gradually scaled down.
Following allegations of foul play on the ill-fated boat, the Bougainville Police Service were tasked with investigating the case that has resulted in the apprehension of several suspects.
Whilst the investigation by the BPS is still ongoing the ABG has requested the Coroner’s Inquest to be conducted within the mandatory six-month period after the date of the boat was declared missing.
The inquest will inquire into the cause and the circumstances of the disappearance of the missing persons and to determine whether the missing persons are dead or still alive.
The inquest will also examine evidence to be presented by persons who will give relevant evidence pertaining to the boating mishap from which the Coroner will hand down their decision.
Pending the inquest President Ishmael Toroama has urged the general public to refrain from creating further speculation until such time the Coroner concludes the matter.
“I understand that there are aggrieved parties with a vested interest on the matter but I ask that the law and the legal process be respected at this time,” President Toroama said.
“Any action to pervert the course of justice will not be tolerated by the government nor the police,” President Toroama added.
“Minister Napto is a Bougainvillean leader and a peace builder. His memory and those that are missing with him must not be dishonored by elements who wish to capitalize on this tragedy. We must let the law take its course to allow justice to prevail,” President Toroama said.
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