Following yesterday’s breaking events of an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, today’s developments began in a rather low-key fashion, as lawyers representing both police and the Prime Minister were back in court.
There has been a further staying of the arrest warrant and a directive from the courts has put a temporary stop to the effecting of any changes in authority, along with directives in and out of the police force, until 9.30 tomorrow morning.
To understand the events that unfolded yesterday, we must go back to the first time the letter, allegedly signed by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, surfaced.
The contents of that letter, now public knowledge, refer to the paying out of outstanding bills to law firm Paraka Lawyers.
Following investigations instituted by the Prime Minister himself into the Paraka payments, Task Force Sweep found that they could not find any substantive evidence linking the PM to the payments.
On Tuesday, January 7th, 2014, Investigation Task Force Sweep Chairman, Sam Koim, released a statement giving ITFS’s position on what was then alleged to have been a call for the arrest of the PM, and Minister Marape and Polye.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was the complainant and initiator of the investigations through a Prime Ministerial Directive he had issued on May 13th, 2013.
The ITFS chairman then said that Prime Minister O’Neill had publicly denied authoring that letter.
Sweep also confirmed that independently interviewed officers from the Prime Minister’s Office and checks of their outgoing correspondence register, along with officers of Department of Finance, had no record of this letter.
The conclusion drawn by ITFS at that time was that they could not locate an original copy of that letter. Nevertheless, ITFS confirmed that they had forwarded a copy of the letter for forensic signature experts to test the authenticity of the signature.
With the developments yesterday, EM TV understands that with such a high-profile investigation, the likes of which ITFS was responsible for, warrants of arrest are not taken lightly and are not raised unless there is enough compelling evidence justifying it.
EM TV understands that on Monday, the 5thof May this year, ITFS Chairman Sam Koim wrote to Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga, advising him of fresh evidence pertaining to Mr O’Neill’s involvement in the facilitating of the payment.
It seems part of this new evidence, is related to the authenticity of the signature on the letter.
There is also information available that points to a copy of a letter from the Prime Minister addressed to Justice Minister Kerenga Kua, and then Treasurer, Don Polye, dated 15th May, 2013, referring to the notorious letter of January 24th.
Also interwoven into yesterday’s events was the contention over who is in control of our country’s police force.
Late yesterday, Police Commissioner Kulunga wrote to Police Minister Robert Atiyafa, requesting a special leave of absence; in the meantime, a special National Executive Council meeting was called, during which former Assistant Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki was appointed as Acting Police Commissioner.
This afternoon, Commissioner Kulunga voluntarily stepped down, in what the current police hierarchy are describing as protecting the integrity of the Office of the Commissioner. Deputy Commissioner Simon Kauba and current senior officers of the RPNGC are in charge.
We have brought you the events leading up to the issuance of an arrest warrant to the PM and the events that followed.
Until 9.30 tomorrow morning when the court convenes to decide on all this, we are left with the following questions:
Exactly how much authority, does an arrest warrant carry?How much new evidence is available in this high-profile case of alleged corruption?
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