THE ongoing leadership tussle claimed another victim yesterday with police charging a prominent lawyer with perverting the course of justice, The National reports.
Plainclothes detectives arrested David Dotaona after he walked out of a court room in Port Moresby yesterday morning.
Police claimed he tried to bribe a police lawyer into signing legal documents recognising his client Fred Yakasa as the police commissioner.
Yakasa had gone to court seeking orders that he was the legitimate police chief because Sir Michael Somare had appointed him.
Dotaona has been representing Yakasa since his appointment by Sir Michael following the Supreme Court ruling on Dec 12. The Peter O’Neill-led government appointed Tom Kulunga to the job.
He was charged with one count of attempting to pervert the course of justice, contrary to section 136 of the Criminal Code.
Dotaona’s arrest followed an operation order by NCD-Central assistant commissioner of police Francis Tokura on Jan 11. It called for him and Yakasa to be arrested immediately after the National Court ruling and conveyed to ACP Crimes for processing.
Deputy police commissioner (operations) Simon Kauba said Dotaona, in his position as Yakasa’s counsel, and others allegedly attempted to bribe Kulunga’s lawyer to sign documents to recognise Yakasa as the police commissioner.
“Lawyer David Dotaona was arrested and charged with attempting to solicit a bribe to pay off Police Commissioner Toami Kulunga’s defence,” he said.
Kauba said it was a “conspiracy bid” to have legal documents signed to declare Yakasa as the duly appointed acting Police Commissioner.
“Dotaona allegedly colluded with two senior politicians and attempted to solicit a substantial amount of money to bribe Kulunga’s legal counsel. This criminal matter came to light after the intended victim filed a sworn affidavit and tendered it as evidence to police investigators,” he said.
Kauba said the interim restraint order obtained by Yakasa on Dec 16 last year, restraining police from arresting him explicitly extended only to members of the police force linked with him, adding that Dotaona was not protected under that order.
He said the matter was quite serious and police had to respond quickly.
Dotaona was alleged to have committed the offence between Jan 7 and Jan 8 while the case between Yakasa and Kulunga was pending in court.
NCD metropolitan supt Peter Guinness said Dotaona was picked up by police at 9am and taken to ACP Crimes Mark Kanawi at police headquarters.
Then he was taken to the Boroko Police Station at around 3pm and formally arrested and charged.
Dotaona was later released on a K2,000 police bail and would appear before the Waigani Committal Court at 9am today