6 Jan 2007

Key witnesses in PNG Defence Force inquiry into Moti affair ordered to give evidence

9:20 am on 6 January 2007

A Papua New Guinea Defence Force Board has ruled that two key witnesses of the inquiry into the Julian Moti escape to Solomon Islands, must give evidence.

The inquiry into who helped Moti leave PNG in a defence force plane, began several weeks ago.

The two key witnesses, Chief Secretary, Joshua Kalinoe, and National Security Advisory Committee member, Joseph Assaigo's, have questioned the jurisdiction of the inquiry.

They argued that the defence force does not have the power to question them, because they are not employed by the dence force.

But our correspondent, Alex Rhheeney, says the board has ruled that the inquiry has the legal right to question them.

"The inquiry handed down its ruling, knocking back the application, and the inquiry chairman said that the inquiry has jurisdiction, because the minister of defence uses his discretion under the defence force act to make the appopintments."

Alex Rheeney says the two men are currently giving evidence, but the public and the media have been denied access to the hearing.