12 Jan 2006

PNG opposition leader has charges dismissed

4:38 pm on 12 January 2006

All eight misappropriation and fraud charges against Papua New Guinea Opposition Leader Peter O'Neill have been dismissed by the Waigani Committal Court due to a lack of credible evidence.

Among the allegations Mr O'Neill was charged with conspiring with Mr Maladina and others to defraud the NPF by fraudulently requesting the acceleration of nearly 900-thousand US dollars.

Magistrate Mekeo Gauli says while documents showed Mr O'Neill held discussions with former National Provident Fund board chairman Jimmy Maladina, they did not prove that the accused was trying to defraud the fund.

The National newspaper reports that the prosecution also failed to prove that Japanese construction company Kumagai Gumi Co Ltd paid money to Port Moresby First National Real Estate (PMFNRE), allegedly owned by Mr O'Neill, for his personal use.

Mr O'Neill says after seven years he has no animosity against anyone and is thankful the country has a vibrant judicial system.

However the Police Director of Prosecution Thomas Eluh says he felt there was sufficient evidence to commit Mr O'Neill for trial and was surprised by the court's decision.