AIR NIUGINI EXECS FIRED OVER FUGITIVE’S ESCAPE

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Two dismissed after former cabinet minister Tiensten flies to Brisbane

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 2, 2011) – Air Niugini has sacked two senior staff for their part in the escape of former Papua New Guinea’s National Planning Minister Paul Tiensten to Australia.

Tiensten is wanted for questioning in an investigation into the spending of funds from the National Planning Department.

The two officers were dismissed after an internal investigation, prompted by questions by the government on how Tiensten had left the country.

The National broadcaster, NBC, reports the two are customer services manager, Jack Pidik, and Rakum Peni, one of the airline’s senior managers.

Air Niugini says they failed to protect the good name of the airline.

The airline has denied the government pressured it to take action.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, the former minister of national planning, Paul Tiensten, has promised to return to PNG and clear his name of the charges levied against him. Tiensten explained his absence from the country was to avoid "unlawful" detention in the Kokopo jail. He also characterized the government’s investigation as "biased" and "selective" towards targeted individuals.]

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