Tactical approach deployed to pursue former PNG PM's arrest

3:37 pm on 11 November 2019

Papua New Guinea's police minister has indicated that a new arrest warrant for former prime minister Peter O'Neill is being pursued.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill talks to the media as he visits the international media center, set up for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, in Port Moresby on November 14, 2018. (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP)

Former prime minister, Peter O'Neill. Photo: AFP or licensors

Police last month withdrew an arrest warrant issued for Mr O'Neill in relation to an alleged corruption case.

The national court had earlier issued a stay order on the warrant after the MP's lawyers applied for a judicial review.

The minister, Bryan Kramer, alleged that Mr O'Neill and his lawyers fabricated a defective arrest warrant document to put before the court.

Police had discovered this alleged defective warrant among copies of court documents used as evidence Mr O'Neill relied on to obtain an interim stay order.

Mr O'Neill has denied this claim, and characterised the case as being engineered by Mr Kramer, his political opponent.

However, after police decided to withdraw their warrant, the court rejected a new application by Mr O'Neill's team to review the withdrawal.

Mr Kramer has accused the former prime minister of trying to create confusion and drag the matter out in court to avoid arrest.

"So a more strategic tactical approach was to withdraw the warrant and apply for a new one," he said.

"If one party is saying the warrant is defective, and therefore they feel aggrieved by it, by simply withdrawing it and applying for a new one then they've got no grounds to stand on to say the warrant is defective."

Bryan Kramer.

Bryan Kramer. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

While sources close to Mr O'Neill have suggested that the police minister has overstepped the boundaries of his role in the matter of the warrant, Mr Kramer denied he has been involved in police operations.

"Police investigations are technically out of my hands. But in terms of what I've been briefed... they are intending to pursue his case.

"The evidence is sufficient. So it's just a matter for him now to defend these allegations against him in a court of law."

Mr Kramer said the allegations against Mr O'Neill are related to a case in which the court has already found that public funds were misapplied and dishonestly presented.

Last month, the minister told Parliament the arrest warrant was related to allegations over funding of churches in his province, Madang.

Mr O'Neill was replaced as prime minister by former close ally James Marape in late May when members of his coalition government withdrew their support for him, prompting his resignation.

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