Papua New Guinea: Body found at acting PM's home

AP News
Posted: Jun 15, 2011 3:32 AM
Papua New Guinea: Body found at acting PM's home

Papua New Guinea police arrested the adopted son of the South Pacific island nation's acting prime minister after a woman's body was found at their family home, an official said Wednesday.

Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal said he had personally reported the "alleged murder" to Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie on Monday after the woman's body was found at the family home in the national capital Port Moresby. Abal's son Teo Abal had been missing since the body was found.

Wagambie said in a statement Wednesday that Teo Abal had been arrested at a Port Moresby hotel Tuesday night and was being interviewed by police. No charges have been filed. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted of murder.

Sam Abal had pledged full cooperation with the police investigation.

"If any of my family members are involved, they will face the full brunt of the law and will not be treated differently from anyone else in similar situations," he said in a statement Tuesday.

Wagambie had confirmed in a statement Tuesday that police were looking for Teo Abal "for questioning in relation to the murder."

Wagambie said Tuesday that the acting prime minister had been away from the house and had been alerted to the death by a security guard who found the woman's body in a banana garden within the grounds of the premises.

The guard alleged that he opened a gate to Teo Abal and the woman shortly before dawn Monday and that the pair walked hand in hand into the garden, Wagambie said.

"The guard claims that some 20 minutes later, he heard the woman scream and further claims that some time after, Teo comes (sic) out and tells (sic) him that he had killed the woman and left her body in the banana garden," Wagambie wrote in his statement.

Police have not said how the woman died or released her identity.

The case adds to the political turmoil in Papua New Guinea where governments are historically unstable and stained with allegations of corruption and nepotism.

Abal is standing in for Prime Minister Michael Somare who stepped down in December last year because of ill health and to clear his name before a tribunal that is investigating allegations that he failed to disclose his full income.

Somare, 75, is accused of failing to submit full income returns going back nearly 20 years.