Police believe attack on Aussie linked to graft

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The National – Wednesday, February 16, 2011

PAPUA New Guinea police are investigating allegations that a brutal attack on an Australian aid worker is linked to his work in exposing corruption.
A spate of car-jacking in Port Moresby had given rise to a climate of fear among some Australian officials, so much that Australia’s high commissioner to PNG Ian Kemish last week met with police chiefs to discuss their concerns.
One of these incidents involved a male aid adviser working with the National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS) who suffered serious injuries in an attack last month during a car-jacking. He was flown to Brisbane for treatment. It was understood that another Australian adviser with NACS ended her contract shortly after her colleague’s car-jacking. She had suffered repeated violent threats.
NACS boss Wep Kanawi, who is overseeing controversial reforms and restructures within the organisation allegedly riddled with corruption, suffered serious wounds when he was car-jacked outside his Port Moresby home last Sunday evening.
NCD metropolitan police commander Joseph Tondop confirmed being aware of the Australian officials’ concern.
“Police are looking into the incidents of car-jacking and, if there is something to do with corruption, then we will pursue this,” he said.
Australia’s opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop told AAP the incidents were “extremely damaging” for Australia’s efforts in PNG.
“If the allegations are correct, it raises serious concern about the safety of our aid workers and the issue of corruption within the aid system.
“The Australian government must call on the PNG government to assure our aid workers can operate in a safe environment and are safe to report any issues they have with the aid programme,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Australia’s foreign affairs minister Kevin Rudd said in a statement: “there is currently no evidence to confirm such allegations.
“Australia is committed to supporting PNG to address corruption,” she said.
Despite Australian federal police assistance in Madang, police were still yet to arrest anyone in relation to the rape of a young Australian volunteer whose group was car-jacked, tied to a tree and robbed in November last year.
Other crimes against Australian citizens that had remained unsolved included the shooting of Queensland businessman John Ramshaw, 61, during a robbery in June last year; and the brutal murder of Victorian transport adviser David Nicholson, 53, who was found dead after two young men accompanied him back to his Port Moresby flat in September 2008. – AAP