29 May 2007

Australian claims sex charges in PNG the result of extortion

7:06 pm on 29 May 2007

An Australian citizen charged with rape in Papua New Guinea's Highlands says he's the victim of a set-up by a sacked employee and jealous business rivals.

Gerard Philip was arrested last Thursday in Kundiawa where he runs several businesses, including a real estate firm and a bakery and butchery.

He was taken to Mt Hagen where he was held in a police cell until he was released on bail on Monday after appearing in the National Court.

His lawyer, Koeya Peri, says Mr Philip faces two counts of raping a woman aged in her 20s in 2003 and has not been charged with having sex with underage girls, as has been reported in PNG newspapers.

But the National newspaper on Monday reported that three girls had come forward saying they had been enticed to the accused's house, given alcohol and raped when they were aged 12 and 13.

Mr Philip claims the rape accusations stemmed from an extortion bid by a former female employee who was sacked for stealing.