Police hunt underway for Manus accused

A POLICE hunt is underway for a former Salvation Army worker who is the main suspect in the killing of an asylum seeker at Manus Island detention centre.

The Papua New Guinean man, who worked on Manus Island in February, is believed to have fled to the mainland after being named by asylum seekers as responsible for the death of Reza Barati.

Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati, 23, died after being struck on the head with a piece of timber during riots at the Australia-run detention centre in February.

Former police prosecutor Thomas Eluh, who worked on the investigation until being sacked for serving an arrest warrant on PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, told the ABC that police officers were close to making an arrest in relation to the death of Barati.

"That's confirmed as far as I'm concerned," Eluh was reported as saying.

"There is strong evidence to suggest so. That's confirmed, yes.

"He's on the run at the moment, so the boys are running around after him."

Following local media reports into the investigation, the Salvation Army issued a statement on the Manus allegations.

"The Salvation Army is aware of reports a former Salvation Army employee has again been labelled a suspect in the death of asylum seeker Reza Barati," the statement read.

"The Salvation Army has always maintained the Manus Island disturbances are a matter for the relevant local PNG authorities only to investigate and prosecute, having cooperated openly and transparently with several investigations into the disturbances of February 16-18.

"If the allegations against the former Salvation Army employee are true, the Salvation Army condemns any such behaviour and insists these criminal actions were not done with the knowledge or authority of the Salvation Army."

The charity added that at the time of the alleged incident, all Salvation Army staff (both Australian and PNG Nationals) had been formally evacuated from the Offshore Processing Centre on advice from security personnel.

"To date, the Salvation Army has not been approached by PNG authorities regarding this matter and remains ready, willing and able to be of assistance to their work if they feel it would be of benefit to their investigation."


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