FILE PHOTO: Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill speaks during the APEC CEO Summit 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, 16 November 2018. Fazry Ismail/Pool via REUTERS
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Papua New Guinea police have issued an arrest warrant for former prime minister Peter O’Neill on suspicion of “official corruption” but he was declining to cooperate with police handling the case, the acting police commissioner said.
The warrant, issued last Friday, stemmed from an investigation, however police gave no details of what O’Neill was wanted for, citing the sensitivity of investigations.
“The warrant was obtained upon the weight of the evidence brought forward by the investigators,” Acting Commissioner of Police David Manning said in a statement on Tuesday.
O’Neill quit as prime minister in May after seven years in the top job amid a wave of discontent over a perceived lack of wealth flowing from major resource projects, and complaints about corruption, which he denied.
A senior police official asked O’Neill, who was at the Crowne Plaza hotel in the PNG capital of Port Moresby on Tuesday morning, to go with him to a police station to be processed.
“As we speak, he has refused to cooperate with police thus far,” Manning said in the statement, urging O’Neill to make himself available to investigators.
Manning said he was committed to looking into all outstanding criminal cases of national significance, including high-level corruption cases.
“Rest assured that under my leadership I will not allow police investigations to be politicized nor allow for people with vested interests to use the police for personal vendetta or a witch-hunt,” Manning said.
A spokesman for Prime Minister James Marape, who took over from O’Neill in May, was not immediately available to comment.
Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Robert Birsel