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Former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is facing arrest on allegations of official corruption.
Acting Police Commissioner David Manning announced Tuesday that police obtained a warrant of arrest for O’Neill last Friday after he allegedly refused to co-operate with them and present himself for an interview. Details of the allegations against O’Neill have not been made public yet.
Announcing the arrest Manning said: “A warrant of arrest was issued by the Waigani District Court last Friday for the former prime minister and member for Ialibu-Pangia Peter O’Neill for official corruption.
“Whilst I can’t reveal any specific details at this point in time due to the sensitivity of the investigations, I can confirm that police investigators in an ongoing investigation applied to the district court for the arrest warrant of O’Neill, which was granted last Friday (11 October).”
Manning said O’Neill had refused to co-operate with police investigators despite being contacted directly by RPNGC acting Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Donald Yamasombi.
“O’Neill, as of this morning was located at Crowne hotel in Port Moresby. The acting Deputy Commissioner of Operations Donald Yamasombi made contact with O’Neill and requested him directly to accompany him (Yamasombi) to the Boroko Police station to be processed,” said Manning.
“He (O’Neill) refused to co-operate with police thus far. My appeal as acting Commissioner of the Royal PNG Constabulary toO’Neill is to avail himself to the investigators and allow for the process to be completed.”
In a statement, O’Neill said he had not been served the warrant for his arrest and that he had only read about it on a social media statement published by the Acting Police Commissioner.
Despite the apparent lack of details into the current case, Manning gave his assurance that the arrest warrant was only deemed necessary after a review of substantial evidence against O’Neill.
“Investigations into this particular case involving the former prime minister have been ongoing and the weight of the evidence that came to light before the police detectives necessitated an application to be made to the courts for a warrant of arrest,”Manning said.
Police Minister Bryan Kramer was contacted to comment on the announcement by acting Police Commissioner David Manning and the response from former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Whilst he did not deny or confirm if he was the complainant in the matter, he released a short statement in response.
“The fact remains the District Court has issued a warrant of arrest against O’Neill on serious allegations of official corruption. It’s my understanding Courts will only grant a warrant of arrest provided reasonable credible evidence is provided.
The appropriate forum to prove his innocence is in a court of law. And he reiterated acting Commissioner Manning’s call, “I support the Acting Commissioner’s statement that O’Neill should subject himself to the rule of the law and not evade arrest by hiding out in hotel rooms,” Kramer said.
Meanwhile, Close Protection Officers (CPOs) to former prime minister Peter O’Neill were suspended last night from duties leaving the Ialibu Pangia MP without body guards.
It has been a practice over the years as a protocol to accord the respect to former prime ministers to provide protection officers.
The CPOs are law enforcement officers or soldiers who protect high-ranking public officials or officers against threats and dangers such as assault, kidnapping and assassination.
Last night, the Post-Courier was told that O’Neill’s CPOs were verbally advised by the Police hierarchy to stand down from duties of providing security for him and would be officially presented their suspension notices today.
About five of them were verbally suspended late Tuesday for unknown reasons. The suspension came at the crucial time acting Police Commissioner David Manning announced there was an arrest warrant out for O’Neill since Friday for a K300,000 (US$88,448) Madang district funds appropriated at the time of former MP Nixon Duban.
The Police hierarchy refused to comment last night but confirmed that the CPOs are suspended from duties until further notice.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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