Notorious PNG criminal killed by police

2013-07-23 11:03

Sydney - Notorious Papua New Guinean criminal and serial prison escapee William Kapris has been killed in a police shoot-out, reports said, ending a major manhunt.

Bank robber Kapris was considered PNG's most dangerous underworld figure, reportedly accused at various times of rape and attempted murder.

He had been on the loose since escaping from PNG's main prison in May - apparently walking out its front gate after being armed by corrupt guards.

"Today we caught up with him following a tip off from the public," National Capital District and Central Divisional Commander Jim Andrews told PNG media late on Monday.

"As we were moving in to apprehend them there was an exchange of fire."

Authorities in the poverty-stricken Pacific country had recently increased the reward for information on capturing Kapris and fellow escapee Raphael Walimini to up to $42 000. They were both killed in the gunfight.

Help from the police

Andrews said officers had surrounded a village outside the capital Port Moresby where Kapris had been holed up and there was a "shootout between the fugitives and the police".

"As the result of the exchange of fire, the two were shot and they died," he said.

The pair were among a small group of high security prisoners who escaped from Bomana prison in mid-May.

Andrews had previously said he was aware that some of his own officers were helping Kapris to live in hiding in Port Moresby.

More than 30 police were reportedly involved in the operation to recapture Kapris who had previously escaped from the maximum security unit of Bomana jail in January 2010.

That escape occurred when a woman posing as a lawyer smuggled a gun into the complex, helping to release 12 prisoners. Most of those who fled in that breakout, including Kapris, were recaptured within weeks.

Kapris was sentenced in 2011 to 30 years in jail for masterminding the biggest heist in the country, a $1m theft from the Bank South Pacific Madang branch in which his gang held bank staff hostage. Most of the money was never recovered.