O’Neill faces arrest

O’Neill faces arrest

By GYNNIE KERO and SYLVESTER WEMURU

PNG Acting Police Commissioner David Manning and Former PM Peter O'Neill
PNG Acting Police Commissioner David Manning and Former PM Peter O’Neill

POLICE will investigate Ialibu-Pangia MP and former prime minister Peter O’Neill for alleged official corruption and have obtained a warrant for his arrest from the court.

Acting Police Commissioner David Manning said the warrant was based on the “weight of the evidence brought by the investigators”. The warrant was to have been served on O’Neill yesterday but according to Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Operations Donald Yamasombi, he could not be located.

O’Neill however told The National late yesterday that he only became aware of the warrant for his arrest yesterday when it was posted on social media by Manning. He denied that anyone from the constabulary had officially communicated the matter to him or his legal representative.

“I will make myself available (to police) at any time to hear this complaint,” he said.

Manning said investigation into the case had been ongoing and police detectives after collating all the “evidence” called for an application to the court for an arrest warrant.

Manning said he had made contact with O’Neill yesterday and had requested him directly to accompany Yamasombi to the Boroko Police Station but he refused to cooperate.

“I am now appealing to the former prime minister to make himself available to the investigators for the investigation process to be completed,” Manning said.

“He will be processed by police after which he has the right to bail and defend himself in court.

“Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law so O’Neill’s constitutional rights are being respected.”

O’Neill criticised the way police had gone about the process of investigating him.

“The fact that the acting commissioner would choose to make this announcement on social media and not through official representation to my office, is telling that this is a political move,” he said.

“I was not informed or presented with a warrant to appear anywhere today (yesterday) by any member of the (constabulary).

“If this was a serious matter, not a political power play, a formal process would be in place that would have seen legal representation made to my office.”

O’Neill suspects that the investigation may have something to do with “renovations to the Yagaum health centre in Madang”.

“The question must also be asked: Since when is it criminal to help community projects for health and education?” he said.

“If someone has mismanaged the funds, they should be dealt with, not people trying to assist.

“As (former) prime minister, I was never the custodian of the funds sent to Madang for the Yagaum health centre for renovations to repair the run-down hospital.”

O’Neill said “this blatant interference in police operations must be referred to the Ombudsman Commission.”

He claimed that Manning and Madang MP and Police Minister Bryan Kramer were behind the move to have him arrested and questioned.

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