182 Days After Reza Barati Was Murdered, Arrests Finally Made


Two men allegedly involved in the murder of Reza Barati have been arrested by PNG officials, 182 days after the Iranian asylum seeker was killed while being held in immigration detention on Manus Island.

Reports today indicate that one of the men was an employee of private security contractor G4S, the other an employee of the Salvation Army.

PNG police have told the ABC they are also pursuing three other men for the incident, including two expatriates (their nationality has not been disclosed).

Barati was brutally bashed to death after a second night of unrest in the Manus Island facility, which has become a major asylum seeker destination since Labor announced an end to onshore processing and settlement in July 2013.

The two nights of protests and violence – caused by detainees’ frustration at the slow pace of processing, and the knowledge they would never be settled in Australia – resulted in tensions between staff and asylum seekers exploding.

A review into the events of February 16 and 17 found that, despite statements made by Minister Scott Morrison the day after the events (which were later corrected), local PNG police were not prohibited from entering the compound by G4S staff, and the violence did not take place outside the facility’s fences.

The review heard evidence that Barati was set upon by a group of 10 men, including a Salvation Army worker, who hit and kicked him in the head.

The same witness who placed the Salvation Army worker and G4S staff at the scene said the group included Australian expats.

The review described 23-year-old Barati as  “one of the more prominent transferees in that community” and “a very gentle person”.

In February, vigils mourning the death of Barati were held at 750 sites across Australia, with thousands lighting candles in a public show of compassion and protest.

Earlier in the year, G4S’s contract to oversee the Manus detention centre lapsed. Transfield Services have since picked up the $1.2 billion contract.

This morning, New Matilda reported that a Serco security guard working in a detention facility in Australia had been stood down after he posted anti-Islamic images on his Facebook page.

Both G4S and Serco have told media outlets they are aware of reports of the arrests but are yet to be asked to provide any information to PNG police.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.