This was the title of an article in one of the (two) dailies a month ago. Some friends highlighted it (there was a story to the case itself) and I remember joking about its emphasis – forget the death; according to the paper’s emphasis, that’s less important than where she was from. (That emphasis isn’t isolated to the media, but it’s easier to make fun of there.)
But since then I’ve followed the story. It has grown to uncomfortable proportions.
On Friday Jan 28, the manager – “a Malaysian” (named) – of “Tropicana Rabaul” went to a local restaurant, the Unicorn, “with two Taiwanese men and two women”. They were drinking, and he fired a bullet from a 9mm glock pistol into the air; it hit the roof. The incident was not reported straight away.
Mystery over death of Malaysian
The following Tuesday, at 7am, the husband was having a shower when he heard a gunshot. He (30) was married to a woman (named; 28) who also worked at the “Tropicana”, and they lived there.
His wife was in the bedroom. She was dead; she had a 9mm pistol (a glock 17) in her hand and a gunshot wound to her head.
He called the police two hours later.
Two police officers attended the scene. Searching the house, they found a total of six firearms (including two 2.22 rifles, a glock 26 pistol and a pump action shotgun). They confiscated them, believing that they were unregistered. They were considering arresting the husband and charging him for this offence. In the meantime they were interviewing him about his wife’s death, which was being treated as a “suspicious murder”.
The provincial police commander chief superintendent (yes that is a real title) admitted that the investigation proved difficult. Murder or suicide? In the meantime, police were interviewing the husband about the unregistered firearms. The woman’s body was flown to Port Moresby to be cremated, and the ashes sent to Malaysia. In the meantime, police were trying to confirm whether the firearms found were registered.
Asian on gun charge. Asian guilty of gunfire.
A week later, someone reported the Unicorn incident to the police. The event had not been considered worthy of reporting, until after the wife’s death.
Two police officers went to the husband’s premises to investigate the claims (of discharging a firearm in a public place). He gave the officers a plastic bag with two pairs of shorts and K30,000 in cash. The police officers didn’t see the money at first, and asked for his gun license. He went into the bedroom and came out with two envelopes containing K6000 in K100 notes and K1000 in K50 notes. He told the officers that “all the documents they needed” were in two envelopes and the plastic bag.
The police officers opened the envelopes and the bag. They then went to the police station and “lodged a complaint”.
Asian pleads guilty
When in court over firing a gun in a public place, the husband pleaded guilty. He was arrested on the same day for attempting to bribe the police. He was still being investigated about the death of his wife. Bail was refused; he was remanded in the cells at Kokopo.
Malaysian goes berserk in police cell
Two days later, there were incidents in the cells.
In the early hours of the morning the husband went to the toilet, with two guards as escorts. Leaving the toilets, he grabbed a fluro light tube and smashed it against one guard’s head. “He then tried to use the remaining sharp part of the tube to stab another… However, quick recovery by the officers coupled with shouting from other prisoners brought early morning joggers and police officers from the nearby barracks who helped to throw him back in the cell.”
Near noon, the husband stabbed a fellow male prisoner (named) with a kitchen knife. The police had no idea how he came to have access to a knife. The husband pushed the knife in under the man’s abdomen; the victim was taken to hospital and underwent surgery.
There was a female prisoner in the cell adjacent to the husband’s. Between them was a fence. The husband put his hands through the fence and pulled the woman by her neck against the fence, attempting to strangle her. Another female prisoner hit the man in order to release his hold, and hollered for help.
After these events, the husband was hit by other prisoners. His face was punched and cut “before police could intervene”, though they said that they were “keeping a close watch” on him now. He was put in solitary confinement due to “the security of other inmates”. He was charged with two new counts of assault and one count of grevious bodily harm (in addition to the charges of discharging of firearm in public and attempted bribery; he was still under investigation over the death of his wife).
Malaysian in hospital
Due to injuries sustained from fellow prisoners, the husband was taken to hospital. He had a headache and was later given pain killers.
Malaysian to know fate today
The sentencing for the discharging-of-firearm charge was delayed; the husband was “too drowsy” to appear in court after receiving medical treatment – the painkillers – at hospital. They were initially withheld from him because of his “state of mind”.
Now if it were 1959-1960, and we were in America, well I would just fold up my newspaper and grab a pencil and a pad of paper and jump on the next train to Kokopo and go write myself a story of true crime. As it’s not, I wait for the another installment in the next day’s papers.*Note: all headings and quotations are from The National and the Post Courier. Most of the events are alleged; the court trials are yet to commence.