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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Somare gave directions for Moti to be flown out of PNG: former Security Director

Joseph Assaigo, former director of the Security Co'ordination and Assessment (OSCA) in Papua New Guinea, has filed papers in court admitting to giving the orders to get fugitive Julian Moti out of PNG because the directions had come from Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.

His revealing remarks were among papers he filed last Thursday to challenge the decision of Chief Secretary Joshua Kalinoe to find him guilty of disciplinary charges laid against him over the Moti issue. He is also challenging a decision by the National Executive Council to dismiss him from his job over the controversial issue. Mr Assaigo was charged on Nov 10, 2006, following an independent investigation ordered by the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare into the Moti issue.

In his statement to support his application, Mr Assaigo details what happened between him, Joshua Kalinoe (PNG government Chief Secretary), Michael Somare’s chief of staff Leonard Louma, and Ambassador Barney Rongap on Oct 8, 9 and 10 before Moti was secretly flown out.

He said on Oct 8, he was told by Mr Rongap that Mr Louma had advised that the Prime Minister (Michael Somare) had directed the Chief Secretary to get rid of Moti but they were not complying with the Prime Minister’s directions.

He said on Oct 9, Mr Louma expressed to him that the Prime Minister was disappointed that the order to remove Moti had not been carried out. He said that afternoon, he met and discussed with Mr Kalinoe the logistical options available to remove Moti from PNG.

Mr Assaigo said on Oct 10, Mr Louma again rang him to say the Prime Minister had given directions to him to have Moti removed. The Chief Secretary was not involved here. He said at about midday, he met Mr Louma and was directed to use either the police helicopter “Eye in the Sky” or the PNGDF Air Squadron Unit to fly Moti out.

Mr Assaigo said because of the risk involved, he was hesitant and wanted to speak with the Chief Secretary first (kalinoe), but Mr Louma became “agitated and angry” and assured him that should anything happen when he flew Moti out, he had the protection of the Prime Minister. He said he communicated the Prime Minister’s direction to acting commander of the PNGDF Tom Urr, and the order was carried out.

In his statement filed in court, he explains that in respect of security issues, the National Security Council is the supreme body, which the Prime Minister Michael Somare chairs. Below the NSC is the National Security Advisory Committee, which Joshua Kalinoe chairs. He said below the NSAC is the OSCA, which he is the director-general. He said directions can come to OSCA from NSC without having to come from NSAC.

“This is what happened in the repatriation of Moti. I was directed by the chief of staff of the Prime Minister to get Moti out of PNG. The direction was given by the Prime Minister in his capacity as the chairman of NSC, through his chief of staff, who communicated the same to me.”

He said the office of chief secretary was bypassed as Kalinoe was not around that time. Mr Assaigo has testified in the Defence Board of Inquiry, but it is understood the inquiry is seeking to obtain the papers Mr Assaigo filed in court.

Source: PNG National

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