PRIME Minister Hon. James Marape has decried assertions by Member for Ialibu-Pangia Peter O’Neill that his court trial was a politically-motivated “witch hunt”.
PM Marape said the former prime minister’s words are misleading and erroneous, taking public attention away from the facts – that his trial is a proper police case mounted in 2014.
After the handing down of the decision yesterday by the National Court clearing him of the ‘abuse of office’ charges, Peter O’Neill had told The National “you have to defeat me at the elections”, alluding that his opponents were using the courts to take him out.
He later published on his Facebook page a longer response, saying “One of the aims of this political witch hunt was to shame and isolate me.”
O’Neill continued on Facebook: “To some of those so-called witnesses who took the stand in court , I hope you reflect on your attention seeking actions and now you know your presence had no impact.”
To those claims, PM Marape said today: “Let us be clear on one thing. O’Neill’s legal case relating to the purchase of the two generators was a police case. It was mounted in 2014 by Belden Namah when he was Opposition Leader.”
“As head of the present government, I condemn these assertions he has made this week, that it was all politically-motivated. These kind of talk does nothing good for the integrity and image of our Police Force and Public Prosecutor who are constitutionally mandated to keep watch over laws of our country.”
“These are the facts of the matter. Belden Namah mounted this case in 2014 when he was Opposition Leader and O’Neill Prime Minister. The Police took it up as a fraud case, and from initial investigations, it was found there was prima facie evidence, or enough grounds established by the public prosecutor, to commit O’Neill to stand trial.”
“O’Neill ought to be humble and not make a show of himself, as if he has been victimised by the Government.”
“The major and real victims in this sad state of affairs is the people of Papua New Guinea, who have lost K120 million from the purchase of these faulty, un-functioning generators. Not only do they not have the promised power supply, but have lost out on the chance to K120 million worth of services.”
“At the behest of the public prosecutor and complying with the legal process, I appeared as a state witness unlike Belden Namah, the initiator of this case, who failed to show up, including others.”
“For the Member for Ialibu-Pangia to allude to shady political push to vilify him is mischievous and rubs mud into the independence and integrity of the functionality of the law and justice sector,” said PM Marape.