PNG INVESTIGATIONS OF POLITICIANS TO RESUME

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By Phil-Peers Yombon

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 21, 1999 – The National/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)----New police commissioner John Wakon announced yesterday that investigations into high profile politicians which were shelved following his sacking would be reinstated.

He said the special task force set up under him, which was disbanded with his exit, would be reinstated to carry on from where it left off.

Among the investigations, which were being carried out by the task force, were the alleged fraud case against former Prime Minister Bill Skate and the sex tape scandal involving Western Highlands Governor Robert Lak.

The National Court dismissed the case against Fr. Lak early this year.

Mr. Wakon said similar special task forces would be established in all the four regions of the country specifically to deal with high profile corruption cases and white-collar crimes involving people at all levels of society.

He said the anti-corruption exercise would be further strengthened by the use of existing police fraud squads in the four regions.

Mr. Wakon said he was proud to return as the Police Commissioner. He was demoted and subsequently sacked from the force early this year.

"It will be business for me as usual," Mr. Wakon said.

"A lot of critics have said my coming back into the force would probably be to get back at the senior officers who opposed me, but I don't have any grudges against anyone here."

He said all policemen were subject to the commissioner's orders, whomever he is.

"I will be working to bring stability and credibility back into the police force," said Mr. Wakon.

"We have been politicking for too long. Officers are taking sides and we have been crucifying and backstabbing each other. That has to end."

He said all members of the force must do their jobs in a professional manner.

"I urge my senior officers and those under their authority to give me their support so that we can work for the betterment of our people and our society," he said.

Meanwhile, a large crowd of irate residents of Morata settlement, June Valley and Tokarara suburbs were turned back by police when they tried to stage a protest march to Parliament house yesterday morning.

The protesters carried placards calling for former commissioner Peter Aigilo's reinstatement, but NCD/Central commander Geoffrey Vaki, who was called in to address the crowd, told them that it was the prerogative of the Government of the day to appoint the Police Commissioner.

PMV operators could not ferry passengers out of Morata as protesters mounted roadblocks to prevent vehicles from using the roads into settlements.

The crowd from Morata moved towards Waigani where it was met by similar groups from Tokarara and June Valley suburbs.

A team of police personnel from the Community Relations unit was dispatched to negotiate a peaceful resolution before Mr. Vaki came to address the crowd.

Mr. Vaki told the crowd that the community policing concept, which had benefited the youth population, especially in Morata, was a valuable concept initiated by Mr. Aigilo.

Mr. Vaki said that despite the changes in the police hierarchy, the constabulary would continue to uphold the laws of the country.

He assured the crowd that Mr. Wakon is a professional policeman who knows the importance of community policing.

Title -- 2232 CRIME: New PNG police chief to revive probes Date -- 21 July 1999 Byline -- Phil-Peers Yombon Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- The National (PNG), 21/7/99 Copyright -- The National Status -- Unabridged

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Please acknowledge Pasifik Nius: niusedita@pactok.net.au http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/index.html

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