K100,000 paid for trio’s release: Tsiamalili MP

A ransom of K100,000 (US$28,000) was paid to armed bandits to secure the release of Australian-based Professor Bryce Barker and two local female researchers on Sunday, says Papua New Guinea Internal Security Minister Peter Tsiamalili Jr.

“Negotiations were deliberately undertaken by third parties, through an agreed operational strategy, so as to not compromise the State’s position on law enforcement,” he said.

The three were the remainder of the seven hostages held for seven days by the armed men near the Mt Bosavi area along the border of Southern Highlands and Hela.

“We will not tolerate those who take the law into their own hands,” Tsiamalili said.

“All necessary resources will be deployed to ensure that those responsible (for the kidnapping) face the full weight of the law and are held to account for their actions.”

Tsiamalili clarified that the Government was not directly involved in the ransom negotiations.

“While the security forces had the capability and capacity to intervene, Police Commissioner (David Manning) decided to pursue a negotiated outcome,” he said.

“And I fully support the Commissioner’s approach to secure the release of the hostages.”

He said a third party was used in the negotiations with the criminals.

“But at all times, the third party took directions from the (police) operational command,” he said.

Tsiamalili said the families of the hostages, supporters, local communities and local authorities were also engaged in the negotiations.

“In total, a sum of K100,000(US$28,000) was made available by the third parties to assist with intelligence gathering and to support the negotiators who secured the hostages release,” he said.

“In the course of these briefings it was agreed that the State could not be party to negotiating a financial settlement, as it recognised the risk of setting a precedent.

“It is important that members of the public understand the sensitive nature of what occurred in what was an act of terrorism.” Mt Bosavi local level government president Daffy Meo sent his apology to families and relatives of the three hostages released on Sunday.