12 Jan 2006

Papua New Guinea holds first state funeral for former prime minister

8:24 am on 12 January 2006

For the first time, Papua New Guinea is to hold a state funeral for a former prime minister.

Sir William Skate, better known as Bill Skate, is the first of PNG's six prime ministers to die since the country became independent in 1975.

He'll be interred in the capital Port Moresby, in a newly-reserved graveyard on Independence Hill after a ceremony at the Reverend Sioni Kami Memorial Church.

Thousands of mourners have already paid their respects by filing past his casket to view the body as it lay in state in Parliament House yesterday.