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Pacific News Minute: Papua New Guinea’s Anti-corruption Squad Suspended After Corruption Arrests

Last week, we reported on a series of high profile arrests in Papua New Guinea, where the police anti-corruption squad appeared to be zeroing in on Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.  Since then, the police unit has been suspended, reinstated, and locked out of its offices...more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.

Papua New Guinea's police department is at loggerheads with itself.  The conflict is between an anti-corruption unit that's conducted a long running and controversial investigation into Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, and the rest of the department, directed by Police Commissioner Gari Baki.  So far, the officers of the National Fraud and anti-corruption Directorate have the backing of the courts, while the Prime Minister backs the Police Commissioner.

All of the controversy swirls around charges against Prime Minister O'Neill that date back six years, and an arrest warrant obtained by the anti-corruption unit two years ago.  The attorney general was arrested for failing to execute the warrant, the arrested Supreme Court justice issued the latest in a long series of injunctions blocking the arrest, and the prime minister's lawyer was charged with perverting the course of justice.  She counter charged an abuse of power: "There are shadowy, unknown third parties funding policemen, " she told Guardian Australia, and declared that what she called rogue cops were out to destabilize the government.

Last week, Prime Minister O'Neill  protested what he called a "vigilante style of police operation." A statement said: "I am not going to allow the office of prime minister to be demeaned, questioned, when they are false allegations."

Former Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta described the intimidation of the fraud squad as, "political interference of the worst sort."

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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