PNG fraud squad head charged over "difference of opinion"
There have been more moves by Papua New Guinea's police commissioner Gary Baki to have the fraud squad head Matthew Damaru sidelined as he probes high level corruption.
Papua New Guinea's national court has ordered a stay on the charges of abuse of office and deprivation of liberty against the police fraud squad head Matthew Damaru.
This followed Mr Damaru's arrest by police internal affairs officers in relation to the fraud squad's arrest of Supreme Court judge, Sir Bernard Sakora, in April on suspicion of judicial corruption.
It was another apparent move by the Police Commissioner Gary Baki to sideline the fraud squad's probe into matters related to an alleged fraud case implicating the prime minister, Peter O'Neill.
Mr Damaru's lawyer McRonald Nale spoke to Johnny Blades about the nature of the complaint levelled against the fraud squad head.
MCRONALD NALE: You see the really critical issue that Justice Sakora raised in the commital court with which it was struck. That was they were saying that prior to the arrest a direction from the Public Prosecutor must be obtained - that is what they were saying - in order for the arrest. But we are saying that, that is not necessary. Even the direction can be taken after the arrest, it can still be taken, but it has to be done before the prosecution and prosecution does not commence until at the time of indictment.
JOHNNY BLADES: Is this the reason why Justice Sakora's case was dismissed, that the court found that the procedure hadn't been done right?
MN: Yes and the court, the district court which we say that we disagree. And I understand they are considering their options but the court found that in order for a judge to be arrested prior there must be directions before the arrest should take place. What we are saying is that is not correct. It is a difference of opinion and yet the police commissioner found it to himself to charge Damaru for committing a crime. And this provision has never been tested. And we also pointed out that there are conflicts, that that provision conflicts with the constitutional provision that says that the public prosecutors office is independent and the police are independent of any direct control from anybody so you have that constitutional conflict there.
JB: Where are things at with the probe of the prime minister's alleged role in the payments to the Paraka law firm? We understood that there is still the court orders pending around the arrest warrant, is that right?
MN: The arrest warrant case was appealed to the supreme court is coming on Thursday the 13th of June so it will go before a three man bench. The appeal, the prime minister appealed that Damaru and Gitua should not be joined in the case against his warrant on the basis that the commissioner has already represented the force. So that is the... in the Supreme Court that is basically the issue. Whether Damaru and Gitua were entitled to join.
JB: Since April so much has been happening around Damaru and this case and the various legalities but the court system seems to have generally upheld the fraud squad's role and the fraud squad's investigations into this, is that right?
MN: The courts have time and time again sounded, consistently maintained the position of the law and that is where we are saying they are coming in. So that is where we are like, the abuses are just so many that you, you know some of them just go unchallenged.
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