PNG POLICE CHIEF CHARGED WITH OBSTRUCTION

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By Clifford Faiparik

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 25) - Ousted police commissioner Sam Inguba was arrested and charged last Friday with abuse of office and perverting the course of justice over an investigation into an alleged payment of PGK4 million [US$1.4 million] by the Finance Department.

Mr. Inguba was detained at the Boroko police cells for about 30 minutes before being released on a PGK100 [US$35] bail at about 7 p.m.

It was also learnt last night that Inguba had instructed his lawyers to sue for PGK10 million [US$3.5 million] for damages to his reputation and credibility.

Lawyer Roger Maguire was with Inguba throughout his arrest and interview at the police headquarters.

Port Moresby Metropolitan police commander Chief Superintendent Mark Kanawi was also present during Inguba’s detention at the Boroko cells.

Inguba will appear at the Waigani District Court today at 9:30 a.m. for committal proceedings.

Detectives from the disbanded serious crimes unit -- acting under the instructions of Assistant Commissioner Raphael Huafolo -- went to Inguba’s house at Boroko at about 10 a.m. to arrest him.

Inguba refused to be taken into custody until his lawyer Mr. Maguire arrived. Inguba disbanded the serious crimes unit in May because some of its members were allegedly involved in questionable deals with their suspects. Mr. Huafolo was the commander of the serious crimes unit. When Maguire arrived, he accompanied Inguba to the police headquarters in Konedobu and was questioned by Huafolo for about four hours.

Several weeks back, Inguba, then as police commissioner, issued instructions for Huafolo to be charged with discharging his firearm in a public place and for disobeying orders to take up his position in Mount Hagen as commander Highlands region. Huafolo unsuccessfully went to court to prevent his transfer.

Last Friday, Huafolo charged Inguba with allegedly preventing detectives from the disbanded unit from traveling to Lae several months ago to investigate businessman Nelson Wahune.

Inguba denied the charges, saying he had ordered the file on Mr. Wahune to be transferred to the more competent unit -- the police fraud and anti-corruption squad.

His arrest adds to a number of people already arrested over the Wahune case. Wahune is a businessman who lost his property in Bougainville during the crisis.

He sought compensation from the State in 2004 and was awarded PGK4 million, of which, the Ombudsman Commission pending further investigations was withholding PGK2 million.

Former Attorney-General Francis Damem, a private business consultant with the Finance Department Simeon Manihia, private investigator Marconi Wamanimbo, police legal officer Thomas Taian and Inspector Peter Philips -- a requisition officer to the police top management funds -- are facing committal proceedings at the District Court for various charges in relation to this payment.

Huafolo said that during his term as the crime director, he had directed his detectives (now disbanded) to investigate Inguba, Damem and another former departmental head over the PGK4 million payment to Wahune between June 2003 and December 2004.

Huafolo also alleged that Inguba transferred him to the Highlands to further disrupt the investigation.

September 26, 2006

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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