Manus murder suspect a hero: Salvation Army
The Salvation Army has described a staff member accused of murdering asylum seeker Reza Barati as a hero, saying he was attempting to help those injured in the Manus Island violence.
In its submission to the Senate inquiry into violence on Manus Island, the Salvation Army said the worker, referred to as “AB”, was a “very caring and dedicated worker for transferees”.
It also says the worker was helping asylum seekers caught in the attack, rather than inciting the violence.
“AB dragged three transferees out of the line of fire and returned to protect others,” Salvation Army human resources manager Pete McClean said.
“AB stated that so many called for AB’s help and AB tried to help many, including shielding them with AB’s own body so that they did not get beaten.”
This contradicts the version of events laid out by the government’s Cornall report, which states the fatal attack on Mr Barati was led by a local Salvation Army worker who hit the asylum seeker with “a large stick”, a witness told the report’s author, Robert Cornall, a former senior public servant.
Fairfax Media understands that Papua New Guinean police have launched a fresh investigation.
More than three months after Mr Barati was killed and 69 others injured, PNG police this week asked security firm G4S for a full list of employees working on Manus Island in mid-February, as well as photos of the workers. G4S declined to comment when contacted by Fairfax Media.
This comes as the PNG deputy commissioner, Simon Kauba, made a furious string of accusations against Australia, including suggesting a “massive cover-up” and claiming the release of the Cornall report on Monday had hampered their own probe.
Also on Friday, an explosive report showed children in Nauru’s detention centre were suffering severe mental health issues and high rates of suicide attempts. The report, obtained by Guardian Australia, shows there is a lack of health screening in children that could lead to 50 per cent of them carrying latent tuberculosis.
“Over the 14 months there were 102 incidents of self-harm in adult males, including 28 attempted hangings and asphyxiations in 18 individuals, and five people who had cut their neck and throat,” said the report, tracking incidents from between 2012 and 2013.
President of the Australian Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs said the findings confirmed how damaging detention environments were.
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