Somare Appointed Commissioner Arrested Over December Barricade

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Yakasa accused of ‘interfering with political liberty of PM O’Neill’

By Junior Ukaha

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, June 6, 2010) - Chief Superintendant Fred Yakasa has been charged with one count of "interfering with the political liberty of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and others" last December, a senior police officer said yesterday.

Acting Deputy Police Commissioner and Chief of Operations, Simon Kauba, said police acted on a formal complaint by O’Neill and arrested Yakasa yesterday as he was coming out of the Waigani Court premises.

Police alleged that at the height of the political impasse, Yakasa and some policemen set up a barricade around the precincts of Government House on Dec 12 and 13 in a move to prevent O’Neill and his fellow parliamentarians from being sworn into office.

"In doing so Yakasa and his group of policemen had contravened Section 79 (1) of the PNG Criminal Code Act Chapter 262," Kauba said in a statement.

Kauba alleged that Yakasa had, by intimidation, interfered with the free exercise of the political right O’Neill and his cabinet ministers had to see Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio.

Yakasa, 47, of Watumanda village in Wabag, Enga province, was taken to police headquarters in Port Moresby and interviewed before being charged, Kauba said.

He was later taken to Boroko Police station and released on his own recognizance.

Kauba said because of the political nature and sensitivity of this case, the investigators had to work on this case meticulously and in a professional manner to eliminate any perception of bias before arresting Yakasa.

Yakasa will appear in Waigani Committal Court at 9.30am today.

Yakasa was appointed commissioner of police by Sir Michael Somare after the Supreme Court last December recognized the Grand Chief as the legitimate prime minister.

When The National telephoned Yakasa yesterday, he said: "I am at the Boroko police station going through the normal process."

Yakasa’s lawyer David Dotaona said his client was charged for his part in allegedly preventing O’Neill and others from entering Government House last Dec 12 and 13, to be sworn in by the Governor-General.

Dotaona said Yakasa was leaving the court premises after attending his case with Tom Kulunga over the commissioner’s post when he was picked up.

"The way they treated him was not good as heavy handed tactics were applied," he said.

"He is not a common criminal.

"They should have accorded him the courtesy to present himself for questioning," Dotaona said.

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