Never Smile at a Crocodile

By Ilya Gridneff, Papua New Guinea Correspondent


A convicted Papua New Guinean bank robber has denied any involvement in the latest violent crimes the country’s most
notorious criminal says he helped orchestrate.

Alphonse Sailas, 35, known as ‘Alfie’, rejected as “complete rubbish” the numerous allegations made by William Kapris, who faces court over charges relating to jail escapes, hostage taking and bank robberies.

Alfie was fingered as the country’s top underworld boss in a video tape confession to police by Kapris.

The tape, leaked in March to AAP, shows Kapris alleging that a network of government ministers, Chinese mafia and Alfie had funded and plotted the numerous crimes for which Kapris now faces charges in court.

When it was leaked, the hour-long tape caused a furore in PNG. It was discussed in parliament, uploaded on YouTube and reportedly sold on CDs at local markets in Port Moresby.

AAP was taken to Alfie’s home in one of PNG’s toughest areas, Port
Moresby’s Gerehu stage six on Tuesday, where the ex-convict said the infamous tape was fantasy, fabrication and falsehoods.

“Kapris is looking for ways to get leniency from the court, saying he is a pawn,” Alfie said.

“Kapris is the mastermind of the crimes he’s in jail for. “He is lying about me and the ministers helping him”.

PNG police confirmed they found no evidence to arrest Alfie after raiding his house last week when acting on the allegations.

“Kapris is like a crocodile,” Alfie said. “You can look after the crocodile for 40 years then one day it will turn around and harm you. He’s like that, he can’t resist, he’s very cunning.”

Alfie said Kapris was vengeful after discovering Alfie had once dated one of his girlfriends. “He is jealous about a woman, that I had her first years ago when I was at university,” Alfie said.
“When he escaped last time he wanted to kill me over it… so that’s why he’s in the tape saying it’s all Alfie.” Alfie was sentenced to 10 years in Bomana jail for an armed robbery in the 1990s.

Since then he says he’s lived a clean life although he was highlighted as a potential risk in a 2008 Bank of South Pacific (BSP) security report.

The report, obtained last month by AAP, raised concerns Alfie and Kapris were working together with BSP staff. Kapris has been charged for robbing four BSP branches across PNG.

“We come from the same area in East Sepik but we are enemies,” Alfie said. “The BSP robberies, I am not party to that, I have no idea, I only heard about it in the newspapers.”

A PNG government source told AAP the Kapris tape was part of an elaborate smear campaign fuelled by the Opposition party, police and correctional service officers. “It’s total fabrication,” he said. “It’s a weak attempt by Kapris to blame the named ministers and to gain leniency.”

PNG’s Attorney-General Allan Marat, who resigned on Tuesday, was criticised for visiting Kapris after the tape’s release and PNG Police Commissioner Gari Baki launched an investigation into the leak.