The family of a Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) soldier who was shot dead in a “tragic accident” during a training exercise last week are calling for greater transparency from the PNGDF in investigating his death.

Leading Seaman Eric Gwale and Corporal Watata Kutegen were shot dead during the early morning exercise last Tuesday at Kupiano Station in Central Province.

Police and PNGDF are investigating the use of live ammunition during the exercise, with blank rounds meant to be used during training.

Police said 12 people have been arrested over the incident and the soldier who discharged the live ammunition has been identified.

It’s expected he could be charged, and investigators are looking into whether he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Disrespectful online posts

Mr Gwale’s sister Erica Kaumi said photos of his body were already on social media before the family were notified of his death.

“The family wasn’t notified properly,” Ms Kaumi said.

“The news was already trending on social media … people starting calling us and crying,” she said.

“Pictures of him lying in Kupiano in uniform were taken and posted on social media.

“There was no respect at all for his body.”

Eric Gwale’s sister says he adored his wife Flora and their three sons. ()

Some live ammunition allowed 

On Wednesday, PNGDF Commander Mark Goina said he hadn’t spoken to the families and described the incident as a “tragic accident”.

By admin