SYDNEY (AP) — Two police officers in Papua New Guinea have been charged in connection with the beating and slashing of around 70 men in the South Pacific island nation's capital, officials said Thursday.
The officers were arrested and charged this week with unlawful wounding in relation to last month's attack in Port Moresby, with more officers expected to face charges soon, Papua New Guinea national police spokesman Dominic Kakas said.
Reports of police brutality are common in Papua New Guinea, an impoverished island nation north of Australia.
In last month's incident, around 70 men were returning to their homes after police broke up a large fight when officers stopped them, ordered them to lie on the ground and then disarmed them of their knives, bows and arrows, Kakas said. Several officers are accused of then beating the men and using the knives to slash their ankles.
"They were kicking us in the stomach, in the face. They broke our hands, they broke our teeth, our noses and ears," one of the alleged victims, Okom Geso, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "The blood was pouring. They cut us."
Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga summoned members of his department to a meeting on Thursday to demand an end to unwarranted police violence and insisted there would be a zero-tolerance policy for brutality, Kakas said.
"We want to be an organization that people can turn to for safety and security," Kakas said. "When this happens, it derails us. We are still trying to build the confidence."
The ABC reported that a judge has ordered a human rights inquiry into the incident.