PNG anti-corruption team to ask court to enforce its pay
Task Force Sweep chairman says he hasn't been paid despite court orders.
The head of an anti-corruption task force in Papua New Guinea says he has not been paid for weeks, despite a court order blocking the government from doing so.
Sam Koim, the Chairman of Task Force Sweep, investigated alleged massive illegal payments from the PNG Government to a law firm, which resulted in charges laid against a lawyer, and an arrest warrant against the Prime Minister.
Now Mr Koim, and the recently-sacked attorney general, say the government is interfering again with the law.
Alex Perrottet reports.
In the legal wrangling that followed the Prime Minister's arrest warrant in June, the government disbanded Task Force Sweep, but it was reinstated - with full funding - by order of the National Court. Sam Koim says it's a breach of that ruling to withhold his pay.
SAM KOIM: The court has made a finding, so there was no evidence that we were compromised. So there's already a determination of fact by the court.
But the secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General, Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, says Mr Koim's secondment to the Task Force has been completed and he was due to return to the ministry to work as a legal officer.
LAWRENCE KALINOE: If he does not come to work in the department of justice and attorney general and discharge his roles and responsibilities as a principle legal officer, he does not get paid. It's as simple as that.
Dr Kalinoe says the ministry has initiated disciplinary action against Mr Koim but that too is on hold pending the outcome of the court matter between Mr Koim and the government. He says during the impasse, Mr Koim should return to work at the ministry and leave the Task Force office. Kerenga Kua was the Attorney General and Justice Minister, but was replaced shortly after the arrest warrant was issued. He says his replacement, Ano Pala, and the secretary, Dr Kalinoe, are in breach of the court order.
KERENGA KUA: He needs to understand that there's a National Court order which stays the cabinet decision to disband the sweep team. And the sweep team includes Sam Koim as the Chairman. And so what the government is effectively doing, under the leadership of the present attorney general, is that they are actively in breach of the National Court order.
Mr Kua says the government actions are consistent with other punitive measures against Mr Koim such as preventing access to lawyers for matters arising out of his employment. He also says Mr Koim's position and actions were respected by the government, until the Prime Minister was implicated.
KERENGA KUA: The Prime Minister's position has always been that the law must be seen to take its course and no one can interfere with that. That's been his position. And several months down the track, an warrant is issued against him and all of a sudden the standards seem to have changed.
Sam Koim says his lawyers will be taking the matter up with the court, and will ask it to enforce its orders on the ministry.
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