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12 Nov 2019 14:46
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  •   Home > News > International

    Peter O'Neill, former PNG prime minister obtains interim court order to prevent arrest

    Papua New Guinea's former prime minister Peter O'Neill is granted an interim court order preventing his arrest for alleged corruption.


    Papua New Guinea's former prime minister Peter O'Neill has obtained an interim court order that prevents him from being arrested on corruption charges.

    PNG police announced a warrant for his arrest for alleged official corruption had been issued on Wednesday.

    The charge is believed to relate to the funding of a hospital redevelopment but PNG police released a statement stating they could not reveal specific details, citing ongoing investigations.

    "The warrant was obtained upon the weight of the evidence brought forward by the investigators," the statement reads.

    "[Mr O'Neill] has refused to cooperate with police thus far."

    Mr O'Neill told the ABC it was a "political witch-hunt" and maintained his innocence.

    He remained defiant — attending Parliament and refusing to meet with police.

    Under PNG laws, Mr O'Neill cannot be served with a warrant while at Parliament, where he took the opportunity to accuse the Police Minister of political interference.

    "Why would I make it fair for illegal arrest to take place when I know that it's not right," he said.

    Late this afternoon, the National Court granted a temporary stay application until Monday when the matter will return to court.

    Peter O'Neill's turbulent times as prime minister

    After seven years in the top job, Mr O'Neill resigned earlier this year following weeks of high-profile defections from his Government to the Opposition.

    There was a sense of public optimism in PNG when Mr O'Neill became prime minister in 2011, which was boosted when he established Task Force Sweep, a multi-agency investigation into government corruption.

    But sentiment soured in 2014, when Mr O'Neill became the target of its investigations.

    There were other controversies along the way, such as the $1.2 billion loan to buy a stake in Australian-listed oil and gas company Oil Search in 2014.

    The APEC summit last year was marred in the minds of many locals by the decision to purchase a fleet of luxury cars, including 40 Maseratis and two Bentleys, to ferry dignitaries around Port Moresby.

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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