ON a day when prime minister Peter O'Neill instructed his lawyers to withdraw court proceedings against an arrest warrant (but the government continued its own proceedings), new Attorney-General Ano Pala (pictured) claimed the allegedly fraudulent Paraka Lawyers invoices that triggered the current PNG crisis are in fact legitimate.
Sacked corruption fighter Sam Koim late yesterday used Facebook to respond to this assertion, asking rhetorically: “Do our leaders know they are now treading on dangerous grounds in their quest for self-preservation?”
Mr Koim continued with a description of the work he and his investigators in former Task Force Sweep undertook to establish the facts of what is now known as Parakagate.
“How we established that payments to Paraka Lawyers were illegal and fraudulent are contained in the committal files served on Mr Paul Paraka and other co-accused persons,” he said.
“We did conduct legal and financial audits on those purported legal bills to arrive at our decision. I presume the politicians and their esteemed legal advisors do have access to those committal files and see for themselves but conveniently put up misleading statements.
“It is our duty as lawyers to advise our clients on what the law is, not what our clients ought it to be.”
Mr Koim went on to say that it seemed “politicians are provoking us to conduct a media trial but as responsible law enforcement officers, we will not buy into that.
“We have to protect the evidence until the proper authority seizes jurisdiction of the case to properly deliberate on the evidence…. Only a court of competent jurisdiction can test those materials.”
Meanwhile former Attorney-General Kerenga Kua has challenged Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki to arrest Mr O’Neill.
Mr Kua says Mr Vaki has no other discretion but to execute arrest.
He said Mr O'Neill and the commissioner deliberately misinterpreted Justice Ere Kariko's judgment last week and could be in contempt of court.
The director of Papua New Guinea's Institute of National Affairs, Paul Barker, has told Radio New Zealand that public frustration with the country's leadership “is understandable.”
He said expressions of public discontent reflect a perception that Mr O'Neill has been avoiding the law.
“They're seeing major efforts by leaders not to actually have to face enquiries or face potential prosecutions under the leadership code or under the criminal code, and clearly a lot of lawyers are getting employed in the whole process of fending off what is seen to be a process of holding leaders to account," Mr Barker said.