20 Jan 2014

PNG opposition leader says he's being gagged

4:17 pm on 20 January 2014

The Papua New Guinea opposition leader says an attempt by the police to arrest him at the weekend was part of a plan to gag him amidst a probe into illegal payments to a law firm.

Belden Namah avoided arrest when the national court awarded his lawyer a stay on an arrest order by the police commissioner Tom Kulunga, for allegedly issuing a threat to him.

Mr Namah says the issue follows his fight to reinstate four police officers who were suspended for trying to arrest the prime minister Peter O'Neill and two senior ministers for their alleged involvement in corrupt payments to Paul Paraka Lawyers.

Mr Namah says he threatened to have Tom Kulunga arrested for perverting the course of justice, if the policemen are not reinstated.

He believes the prime minister, who is also the police minister, is trying to silence him.

"He is actually trying to get himself away from this investigation. He's trying to come up with deceptions to divert attention away from this issue of the complaint I have made with the police force.

Belden Namah insists he has not broken the law.

During a court hearing this morning, Justice Catherine Davani ruled that a stay will remain on the arrest warrant for Belden Namah until February 11th when the matter will again be heard in court.

Justice Davani also ruled that during this period, no other arrests warrants are to be carried out on anyone else implicated in the issue, including the police commissioner, the treasurer Don Polye and the finance minister James Marape.