4 Nov 2011

Tiensten defends fleeing PNG, claiming witch hunt

3:12 pm on 4 November 2011

A former senior Papua New Guinea minister who fled to Australia to avoid a corruption investigation has defended his decision to leave, saying he is the victim of a witch hunt.

The former planning minister Paul Tiensten flew to Brisbane in September after officials investigating corruption in the planning department said they wanted to talk to him.

Mr Tiensten was planning minister until August, when 70 MPs crossed the floor of parliament to dump the government of Sir Michael Somare and elect Peter O'Neill to the head of a new government.

He has told the ABC he is the victim of a witch hunt.

Mr Tiensten says he will return to PNG this month to avoid being disqualified from parliament for missing three consecutive sittings.