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Tuesday 26 April 2016 | Published in Regional

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PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s police fraud squad remains unable to access its office and files amid a standoff over a major fraud case.

The police commissioner Gary Baki last week suspended the head of the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate, Matthew Damaru, and several colleagues for insubordination and alleged breaches.

This came after the fraud squad made several high profile arrests, probing the prime minister Peter O’Neill’s role in alleged illegal state payments to a law firm.

Damaru challenged Baki’s move in the court which subsequently ordered a stay on the suspension, allowing the fraud squad to resume its work.

However he said officers loyal to the police commissioner continue to blockade their headquarters.

“And we’ve been locked outside, we can’t do anything. All the files and everything are all locked up. We are just hanging around outside the office and out on the street, basically doing nothing,” he said.

“We are told to provide reports and everything, but we can’t while the office is locked.”

Police Minister Robert Atiyafa has defended Baki’s move to lock up the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate.

The minister said the police commissioner acted within his administrative powers.

“Since assuming office last year, Commissioner Baki has acted professionally and reasonably by giving ample time for the fraud investigators to appraise him as head of the organisation on all matters.

“But detectives assigned to these cases acted unethically and irrationally by withholding information from the commissioner of police.

“This has raised a certain level of suspicion of bias in these investigations and the organisation,” he said in a media release.

The matter returns to court today where lawyers representing the various parties will make submissions. - RNZI/PNC