6 Mar 2012

PNG chief judge accused of obstructing police inquiry

10:07 pm on 6 March 2012

Papua New Guinea's chief judge is expected to appear in court on Wednesday after being charged with trying to obstruct a police investigation into his management of the courts.

Chief justice Sir Salamo Injia was arrested in Port Moresby on Tuesday and later released on his own recognisance, Radio New Zealand International reports.

A spokesperson for the police, Superintendent Dominic Kakas, says Sir Salamo has been charged with obstructing a police investigation into his intervention in the handling of a dead judge's estate.

Police allege Sir Salamo personally intervened in the handling of the Justice Timothy Hinchliffe's estate and illegally redirected a cheque of about $US100,000, meant for the former judge's son, into court coffers.

Mr Kakas says it is alleged Sir Salamo ordered that the cheque be recalled and had a new cheque made to the court's staff services.

In December last year, Sir Salamo presided over the Supreme Court decision which ruled that Prime Minister Peter O'Neill and his supporters did not follow due constitutional process when they dumped former prime minister Sir Michael Somare from the top job.

The government had suspended him ahead of that decision but withdrew it after an outcry. A second suspension in February was allowed to stand.