6 Mar 2007

PNG PM accused of lying over Moti affair

5:27 pm on 6 March 2007

Papua New Guinea's sacked national security chief has accused the prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, of lying over the Julian Moti affair.

Last week, Sir Michael blamed a former National Security Advisory Council director-general, Joseph Assaigo, for organising a PNG military flight from Port Moresby to the Solomon Islands for the Australian lawyer wanted on sex charges.

Sir Michael said Mr Assaigo was a friend of Mr Moti's and their families were connected through marriage.

But Mr Assaigo has hit back at the prime minister, saying Sir Michael has brought shame and indignity to his name by his allegations.

He has told PNG's newspaper, The National, that his Fijian wife's family has no connection with Mr Moti as Sir Michael alleged.

Mr Assaigo says the prime minister's allegation that he knew Mr Moti personally is also false.

He says when he was PNG's high commissioner to the Solomons from 1994 to 1998, he at no time associated personally or professionally with Mr Moti.

Last month, Sir Michael sacked his defence minister Martin Aini after the minister stated publicly that he had been pressured by the prime minister into signing documents to disband an inquiry into the Moti escape.