Papua New Guinea has an amazing tendency to tangle itself up in so many knots that it is often difficult to find any way to unravel the result.
In what other country would you have the head of the police fraud squad ordering the arrest of the Attorney General, a Supreme Court Judge and the Prime Minister’s lawyer and then, surprised at his own suspension, winning a court order to have that suspension nullified?
As reported by the ABC’s PNG Correspondent, Eric Tlozek, the head of the fraud squad, Chief Superintendent Matthew Damaru, won a court order on Monday to stop the Police Commissioner suspending him.
That suspension happened on Saturday.
But after winning the stay order against his suspension, Chief Superintendent Damaru arrived back at his office to find other police had changed the locks and he could not get in.
It is obvious the PNG police force is in some disarray.
The Government certainly has not helped the force’s stability by regularly chopping and changing Police Commissioners.
The current Police Commissioner, Gari Baki, claims that the suspension of Damaru had nothing to do with the Fraud Squad’s arrest of the Attorney General and the others, or its pursuit of the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, over alleged official corruption.
Baki said it was to do with other disciplinary matters. But then there was this quote after he suspended Damaru on Saturday: 'I have taken steps to assume control of the erratic and out-of-control national fraud and anti-corruption directorate and to restore some integrity into the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary,' Mr Baki said.
Which sounded somewhat similar to what Prime Minister O’Neill had told the media the day before. 'We cannot have a vigilante style of police operation in the country.'
PNG’s energetic social media has been full of virulent criticism of O’Neill and there has been much cheering for Damaru and his Fraud Squad officers. It is the same sort of social media support that flowed to Sam Koim and Task Force Sweep which, after having been established by O’Neill as an anti-corruption unit, went after O’Neill.
The Prime Minister then cut off Koim’s funding.
A lot of the court cases in this whole messy affair are directly or indirectly related to the Paul Paraka case, now two-and-a-half years old, where the principal of the law Firm, Paul Paraka Lawyers, was arrested and charged with 18 counts of receiving about $30 million in allegedly fraudulent payments from the PNG Finance Department for legal work his firm claimed it had performed for the PNG Government.
The following year he was hit with another 32 charges of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and misappropriation. Paraka contests the charges and is still out on bail. The investigations into O’Neill are over whether he authorised the payment.
If you wrote a play with this story line it would be rejected and you would be told to try again and, this time, make it believable.