PNG police dispute Peter Dutton's account of Manus detention centre attack

PNG police dispute Peter Dutton's account of Manus detention centre attack

PNG police dispute Peter Dutton's account of Manus detention centre attack

Updated 25 April 2017, 10:05 AEST

Papua New Guinea police reject claims by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton that concerns for a small boy led PNG soldiers to attack the detention centre on Manus Island.

Papua New Guinea police have rejected claims by Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton that concerns for a small boy led PNG soldiers to attack the detention centre on Manus Island.

Mr Dutton said the incident — in which PNG soldiers fired shots into the centre — was triggered over concerns for the safety of a small child brought into the centre.

Mr Dutton suggested Manus residents feared the boy had been sexually assaulted.

But Manus province police commander David Yapu said Mr Dutton was referring to an unrelated incident in which there was no allegation of sexual assault, and no concerns for the boy's safety.

"If there was a sexual assault, a formal complaint would be made by the parents for the police to pursue investigations," Mr Yapu said.

A 10-year-old boy was brought into the centre, the senior inspector said, to be given food some days before the attack by the soldiers.

"He was given some fruits by the residents in the centre and then he was taken out again," he said.

"So there was nothing done to him and also there was no official complaint by the parents of that small boy."

Asylum seekers in the centre said the boy was begging for food at the centre entrance and that staff were aware that he was brought inside to be fed.

They urged the Australian Government to release CCTV footage from the many cameras at the centre, saying it would show their account was correct.

Mr Dutton's office declined to comment.

Ronny Knight, a former Manus MP currently fighting his dismissal from the PNG Leadership Tribunal, said a boy was brought into the centre, but that it happened well before the attack.

"Basically what happened was he was led in there and we don't know the reason why he was led in there," Mr Knight said.

"It was lucky that the parents realised he was missing and acted very quickly and they retrieved him before anything could happen to him.

"I believe he was checked by [medical provider] IHMS and there was nothing done to him sexually or physically."

The MP, PNG Police and the PNG Defence Force have all said the attack on the centre was triggered by a confrontation about the use of the naval base sporting field which led to an officer being assaulted.

PNG Police said the Defence Force personnel were drunk.

Editor's note (25/4/17): This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Ronny Knight is a former member of parliament for Manus.  He was dismissed by the PNG Leadership Tribunal in 2015 for misconduct in office relating to the purchase of a boat for Manus Island, but had the dismissal stayed by a court order.  The stay was removed late last week and the dismissal upheld. But Mr Knight has since filed an appeal against his dismissal to the PNG Supreme Court and is seeking another stay to effectively remain the Manus MP until PNG's national election in June.