PNG court to look at arrest warrant for former PM

9:44 am on 21 October 2019

Papua New Guinea's national court will today hear submissions on the validity of an arrest warrant for former prime minister Peter O'Neill.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill of Papua New Guinea.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill of Papua New Guinea. Photo: PETER PARKS / AFP

PNG's police commissioner, David Manning, last week said the warrant was issued for the Ialibu-Pangia MP's arrest in relation to an alleged corruption case.

Subsequently, the court granted an interim injunction on moves to arrest him. Mr O'Neill's legal team claimed he would likely suffer "irreparable damages" caused by a "defective" warrant.

The head of the police fraud squad, Matthew Damaru, said the legal move was similar to when Mr O'Neill's lawyers challenged a previous warrant for his arrest issued in 2014 in a separate corruption case.

"Yeah, it's frustrating, but it's a process. People like Peter O'Neill who are suspected of committing a crime, they have a right to go to court and seek redress if they feel they've been unfairly treated."

Last week, lawyers acting on behalf of Mr O'Neill also sent police a letter asking for clarification on the alleged charges, and for more time regarding the warrant of arrest

One of the recipients of the letter, Mr Damaru, said this was not the way charges are usually relayed to someone whom police seek to arrest.

"That would be done when the person is brought in for an interview. That's the first thing they do in the interview process. The person cannot be informed of outside of the interview process. It's improper.

Mr Damaru said his directorate was not involved in the case anyway.

Mr O'Neill has denied any wrongdoing and characterised the case as being fabricated as a power play by political enemies.