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12 Nov 2019 16:04
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  •   Home > News > International

    Peter O'Neill, former PNG prime minister, says arrest warrant a 'political move'

    A warrant for arrest is issued for former Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill over corruption allegations, which he labels a "political witch hunt".


    A warrant for arrest has been issued for former Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill over corruption allegations.

    PNG's police commissioner released a statement on Tuesday stating the Waigani District Court issued a warrant last Friday, but could not reveal any specific details, citing ongoing investigations.

    "The warrant of arrest is now in the process of being served on Mr O'Neill. He will be processed by police, after which he has the right to bail and defend himself in court," the statement read.

    "The warrant was obtained upon the weight of the evidence brought forward by the investigators.

    "Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, so Mr O'Neill's constitutional rights are being respected in that regard."

    After seven years in the top job, Mr O'Neill resigned earlier this year following weeks of high-profile defections from his Government to the Opposition.

    There was a sense of public optimism in PNG when Mr O'Neill became prime minister in 2011, which boosted when he established Task Force Sweep, a multi-agency investigation into government corruption.

    But it soured in 2014, when Mr O'Neill became the target of its investigations.

    There were other controversies along the way, such as the $1.2 billion loan to buy a stake in Australian-listed oil and gas company Oil Search in 2014.

    As well as at the APEC summit last year, which was marred in the minds of many locals by the decision to purchase a fleet of luxury cars, including 40 Maseratis and two Bentleys, to ferry dignitaries around Port Moresby.

    'Political witch hunt'

    The statement released by PNG police was also shared on social media.

    It said 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".

    In a statement, Mr O'Neill said the new developments are a "political move".

    "I have not heard from police in any way, shape or form, this is the first time hearing [of it] but I will get my lawyers to get on to it and respond to it accordingly," Mr O'Neill told the ABC.

    "There's a lot of political witch hunt going on at the moment."

    PNG police claim that acting Deputy Commissioner Operations Donald Yamasombi has made contact with Mr O'Neill and has requested that he accompanies him to Boroko Police Station to be processed.

    "[Mr O'Neill] has refused to cooperate with police thus far," a statement from police reads.

    "Now my appeal as the Acting Commissioner of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary to Mr O'Neill is to avail himself to investigators and allow due process to be completed."


    ABC




    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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