PNG attorney general says 'drop the Paraka case'
Papua New Guinea's top legal official has advised the police commissioner that there has been no criminality involving payments to lawyer, Paul Paraka.
In the latest development in the crisis embroiling the Papua New Guinea prime minister, the attorney general says there is nothing illegal or criminal in payments made by the state to a law firm.
This comes after weeks of turmoil centred on police efforts to arrest prime minister Peter O'Neill over his alleged involvement in payments to Paul Paraka Lawyers.
The payments include nearly US$29 million over the past two years and had resulted in a number of arrests, among them the principal of the firm, Paul Paraka.
Our correspondent Todagia Kelola told Don Wiseman that the attorney general, Ano Pala, has advised the police commissioner, Geoffrey Vaki, to drop the case.
TODAGIA KELOLA: That is his advice contained in a letter to the new police commissioner, advising him that in his opinion as the state's top legal advisor, there is no criminality or illegality in that payment to Paul Paraka Lawyers. Ano Pala is basing his opinion on the recent Supreme Court decision involving Paul Paraka Lawyers and the state recently handed down on Friday by the Supreme Court.
DON WISEMAN: He is strongly critical, I suppose as you would expect given that he was only recently appointed by the Prime Minister, he is strongly critical of police and of Sam Koim [head of Task Force Sweep].
TK: Yes he is very critical and he has stated that Sam Koim and the police have basically misled and withheld information that would have exonerated Paul Paraka and others who were implicated in the 71.8 million payout.
DW: What do you anticipate is going to happen from this point?
TK: Well, when you look at it, it is a really big roundabout turn for the state and personally, for myself, it is not in the interest of the state for the attorney general to form such views. At the end of the day the state will definitely miss out in that there will be claims against the state for damages.
DW: Yes but we did have, just last week, the national court telling the police commissioner to butt out of the investigation by his fraud squads so are they likely to just carry on anyway?
TK: Well, investigators themselves went and took out that restraining order basically to stop the commissioner who was appointed by the Prime Minister recently. So it is in a really big dilemma now because those investigators at the end of the day will have to report to the commissioner's office any time in the near future so...
DW: Do we have any reaction from the likes of Kerenga Kua, the former attorney general and the man who was instrumental, I think, in establishing Task Force Sweep?
TK: Yes, I think Kerenga Kua will definitely say something. Last week the former attorney general basically stressed the need for public office holders to put the interests of the state before the interests of any other persons including themselves.
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