By Miriam Zarriga in Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea police have been tasked to furnish a full investigation report on the death of Deputy Prime Minister Sam Basil and his bodyguard First Constable Neil Maino.
Prime Minister James Marape told Basil’s children that “no stone would be left unturned” by police as they investigate the deaths.
He was speaking on Sunday during the arrival of the casket of his deputy at the Jackson’s International Airport ceremonial car park.
Basil died in a head-on vehicle collision along the Bulolo Highway in Morobe Province last Wednesday night.
“I have instructed the police to give a full account of the last steps of the Deputy Prime Minister, the journey the oncoming driver took, and every circumstance behind what happened in the lead-up to his passing,” Marape said.
“A report is expected for us to bring to full conclusion the passing of our nation’s Deputy Prime Minister.”
Marape gave this assurance to family members, people of Bulolo and Morobe, friends, members of Basil’s United Labour Party (ULP), members of the disciplined forces and the public at the airport.
“Sometimes, in life, it is not easy to understand why such tragic circumstances happen in this manner,” he said.
Words cannot express loss
Marape said words could not fully express the loss of Basil to the nation.
“We stand with the family, we stand with the people and Wau-Bulolo, we stand with the people of Morobe Province, we stand with the United Labour Party, we stand with every citizen — men and women, boys and girls — of our beloved country to receive the Deputy Prime Minister of our country,” he said.
“It is his last time to leave Lae for Port Moresby, and for the last time to be with us in Port Moresby, for us to accord him the respect he deserves and send him back to rest.
“It is a moment none of us thought would happen, I never thought it would happen.”
Marape said he was in a meeting last Wednesday night when news came from Lae of the accident.
“I asked those who were seated with me to offer a prayer for him (Mr Basil), as we were hearing that he was struggling,” he said.
“Today, the nation is coming to grips with the passing, for the first time, of a deputy prime minister of our country while serving in office.
Highest dignity promised
“This is very, very sad.”
Marape told Basil’s family that the entire country joined with them in mourning the loss of their father, husband, son and brother.
He said Basil and himself first entered Parliament in 2007 and he was privileged to have served with him in Cabinet as a minister and later as DPM.
“He excelled to the highest standard in service to his people of Wau-Bulolo – which was second to none, to Morobe and to Papua New Guinea,” Marape said.
“The nation will give the highest dignity to a servant of our nation who has passed.
“We will give him, in his final tour-of-duty, the highest recognition that he deserves.”
Miriam Zarriga is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.
This content originally appeared on Asia Pacific Report and was authored by APR editor.