PNG OFFICIAL SAYS INCRIMINATING NOTE A FORGERY

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By Julia Daia Bore

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 4) - The First Legislative Counsel Hudson Ramatlap has denied that he wrote a note that appeared on a purported gazettal notice, part of which the Post-Courier reproduced on its front page yesterday.

The newspaper has claimed this as proof that the Government had attempted to disband the Moti Inquiry.

[PIR editor’s note: Julian Moti is an Australian lawyer who has been sought by Australian authorities in connection with alleged child sex offenses. He was appointed Attorney General in the Solomon Islands in September but went on the run shortly after his arrival in the Solomons. Moti fled first to Papua New Guinea, where he was protected by the Solomons embassy in Port Moresby, until he was spirited back to Honiara, allegedly with the help of the PNG military.]

Mr. Ramatlap told The National yesterday that the writing was not his and neither was the signature under the scribbled note.

He also said he had only received the completed and printed National Gazettal Notice No. G232 at his office at about two on Tuesday afternoon.

"I, as the First Legislative Counsel, do not and have never in my entire professional career, given advice or directives to my superiors in that unprofessional manner," he said, adding that in his capacity as the First Legislative Counsel, he would issue legal instructions or advice, properly typed out and presented on his office letterhead.

Ramatlap also pointed out two spelling and grammatical errors on the scribbled notice published by the newspaper.

"I would not have made those mistakes, the spelling of the word ‘counsel’ was written out as ‘council’ and the noun (advice) was written out in the scribbles as a verb (advise).

"The Post-Courier did not have the courtesy to even cross-check with me to verify if I had in fact scribbled those instructions," he said.

Ramatlap said he was seeking legal action against the newspaper for defamation of character and was also referring the matter to the police for forgery.

"This is a case of fraud with someone forging my signature."

Meanwhile, acting Prime Minister Don Polye yesterday released a media statement announcing an investigation into the "falsified" note on the National Gazette.

"The signature had been falsified and the note was fabricated by persons with a motive to discredit the acting PM and the First Legislative Counsel.

"Neither Sir Michael or myself have asked the Office of the First Legislative Counsel to disband the PNGDF Inquiry."

Mr. Polye also said he was speaking with the Office of the Attorney-General and the police to make further investigations into this forgery and pursue court action against the newspaper concerned.

"Further more, I have never received hand written advice from the office of the First Legislative Counsel, least of all on Gazettal notices and am very disappointed at this newspaper’s lack of professionalism in carrying out proper checks before further confusing the public," Polye said.

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