16 Jan 2007

PNG PM stands by embattled new Police Commissioner

3:15 pm on 16 January 2007

Papua New Guinea's Minister Sir Michael Somare has given his full backing to new Police Commissioner Gari Baki.

Mr Baki assumed office as commissioner yesterday, despite a written letter from the Police Minister John Hickey urging him not to take office until charges laid against him were cleared.

Sir Michael says the Government will not be swayed by the division within the police force caused by this appointment.

He says the cabinet majority agreed that Mr Baki should be the commissioner of police and stand by it.

Sir Michael says that when the appointment was legally challenged, he waited for the court process before putting his signature to the final gazette when the court ruled in favour of Mr Baki.

Mr Baki's appointment as the Police chief is being challenged in court by senior officers Fred Sheekiot, Tony Wagambie and Tom Kulunga.

A judicial review has been granted but an application to prevent Mr Baki from taking office was refused last Friday.

Mr Baki has two charges hovering over him - one for allegedly causing disaffection in the police force and two for perverting the cause of justice, pending in court.