Sacked senior PNG cop says he saw it coming

8:51 pm on 29 September 2015
Thomas Eluh

Thomas Eluh Photo: RNZI

One of two senior Papua New Guinea police officers sacked today from the force says he's not surprised by their removal.

The Assistant Commissioner of Police Thomas Eluh, along with Chief Inspector Timothy Gitua, had been at the forefront of investigations against the prime minister Peter O'Neill in relation to a major fraud case.

The investigations resulted in an arrest warrant being issued last year against Mr O'Neill, whose lawyers mounted a legal challenge to the warrant's validity which remains with the courts.

However the prime minister's lawyers were this week unsuccessful in applying to the Supreme Court to prevent Inspector Gitua and the director of the national fraud and anti-corruption command, Mathew Damaru, being included as party to proceedings.

Mr Eluh says the heat is increasing on the substantive matter around the arrest warrant, which makes his and Mr Gitua's removal timely.

"I knew it was going to come because of our strong stand in continuing to pursue the warrant of arrest. From my perspective, I believe that these are signs of desperate people who are trying to do everything in their powers to stop all these investigations and the arrest warrants and so on and so forth."

Thomas Eluh says he makes no apology for fighting corruption as it is his mandated responsibility.

Mr Eluh says he and Mr Gitua will vigorously challenge their removal.

The removal of the two senior police officers is just the latest in a series of high level sackings and suspensions in the force since the warrant was issued in June last year over Mr O'Neill's role in alleged illegal state payments to a law firm.

This includes two changes of Police Commissioner.

Peter O'Neill has strongly denied any wrongdoing and has previously accused those pursuing his arrest of having been politicised.

However Mr Eluh suggests that the prime minister's lawyers have deliberately delayed court cases on the validity of the warrant by introducing minor legal issues.

"We were anticipating that the cases would be resolved as quickly as possible because these cases are of public interest and are important to the overall law and order situation in the country. So it's unfortunate that it has dragged on for all this time, it's over a year now, and we're still struggling in the courts at the moment."

The case around the arrest warrant has been adjourned to November.