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Ombudsman’s call for probe of Prime Minister shouted down

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Mar. 11, 2010) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the parliament yesterday rejected the Moti Affair report, effectively putting an end to the controversy without any further action.

In the process the Ombudsman Commission which investigated the matter came under a heavy barrage of criticism spearheaded by the Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare.

Opposition Leader, Sir Mekere Morauta, who was the only Member to maintain the findings and recommendations of the report, was interrupted by numerous interjections by government members of parliament.

Sir Michael began the debate describing the investigation as a spider web full of holes "although it is specifically woven to try and trap something."

"Its contents speak very poorly of the integrity and objectivity of the Ombudsman Commission in the conduct of its duties," Sir Michael said.

"I did not give any directions for Moti to be flown by Defence Force aircraft to the Solomon Islands. I helped bring about the birth of PNG and I will always act in the best interest of the people of this country."

[PIR editor’s note: Mr. Moti was charged with child molestation and sexual offenses in Vanuatu a few years earlier. The Australian government’s pursuit to extradite him failed when Sir Michael Somare allegedly blocked the arrest by aiding in the flight of Moti using a PNG military aircraft to fly him back to the Solomon Islands.]

Sir Michael said the focus of the investigation was whether the arrest and detention of Moti was lawful and whether the requirements of the extradition laws of PNG were complied with.

He said as such government bodies concerned had been asked to ensure proper procedures were followed.

He said the purpose of the commission was not to pronounce guilt and culpability on anyone.

"The obsession with which the Ombudsman Commission has pursued the objective of trying to ascribe guilt on me for the Moti Affair does little justice to, and in fact undermines, efforts aimed at ensuring proper procedures are followed," he said.

He said the shift in the commission’s investigations was unfortunate, unnecessary and irrelevant to the purpose of ascertaining whether or not authorities understood the extradition law.

"And yet no recommendations have been made to prosecute those involved in breaking our own laws," Sir Michael said.

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