Wednesday, March 14, 2012

PNG deputy PM denies threat allegations

PAPUA New Guinea's deputy prime minister has denied his alleged involvement in threatening and sexually harassing staff during a drunken fracas at Sydney's Star casino last year.
Belden Namah, who became PNG's deputy PM in August last year, is reportedly named in a Star incident report, which accuses him of refusing to leave the casino and propositioning the male blackjack dealer despite repeated protests.
Belnden Namah

Speaking through his lawyer, Greg Sheppard, Mr Namah told AAP the accounts were inaccurate.
"We confirm that if Belden Namah is named in those documents - and we couldn't see it because they are blacked out - they are mistaken and inaccurate," Mr Sheppard said.
When asked if he could confirm Mr Namah's presence at Star on the night in question, Mr Sheppard said: "Whether he was there or not is not really relevant because it wasn't him. The incident wasn't him."
Former prime minister Sir Michael Somare has called on his successor Peter O'Neill to explain the alleged actions of his deputy.
"Mr O'Neill cannot remain silent about the conduct of his deputy anymore," Sir Michael said in a statement.
"I would suggest that before any investigation is even set up that Mr O'Neill stop his deputy from further representing PNG overseas at the expense of the PNG government.
The alleged incident report, which has now been put online by Fairfax media, says at about 7am on April 16 last year Mr Namah and two colleagues were gambling in the high roller's Sovereign Room and, being heavily intoxicated, were asked to stop drinking.
The blackjack dealer's statement reportedly says after being asked to stop drinking, Mr Namah began "teasing me by asking my mobile number".
Mr Namah is then alleged to have asked him: "Can I f*** you tonight?"
The report also says Mr Namah threatened staff, telling either a security guard or the manager on duty "You may be big but I will knock you on your f***ing arse".
Former Attorney General in the Somare government, Sir Arnold Amet, said he did not want to comment on the report because the allegations were "speculative and unsubstantiated".
Mr Namah, a former forestry minister, was elevated to the deputy's chair after helping to organise the dumping of Sir Michael as prime minister in August 2011 and formed a new government under Prime Minister O'Neill.
A former soldier, Mr Namah was instrumental in damping down a failed mutiny by supporters of Sir Michael in January.
A Star spokesman said claims that a badly behaved customer was readmitted to the casino because he was gambling large sums of money - reportedly $800,000 - were incorrect.
"The customer was allowed to re-enter the gaming area after returning to his hotel room for a period of five hours and after he was spoken to by another gaming manager and a general manager and warned that his behaviour was unacceptable and would not be tolerated," he said.
The spokesman also said the matter had been considered by barrister Gail Furness SC as part of the casino's licence review last year and there was no adverse finding.
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell told ABC radio an independent inquiry by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority was underway.

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