Son of PNG Acting Leader Charged with Murder

Posted June 16th, 2011 at 12:40 am (UTC-5)
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The adopted son of Papua New Guinea's acting Prime Minister Sam Abal has been charged with the murder of a woman whose body was found at his father's home in the capital of Port Moresby.

Teo Abal was arrested Wednesday in a Port Moresby hotel, two days after the woman was found with her throat slashed in a banana grove on the compound. He was charged with willful murder.

Police say a security guard says he let the younger Abal and the woman into the compound early Monday, and the couple walked hand and hand into the garden. Minutes later, the guard says he heard the woman scream, and sometime after that the guard said Teo Abal told him he killed the woman.

The victim has been identified as a waitress who worked at a Port Moresby hotel.

Mr. Abal was not at home at the time of the murder. In a statement issued Tuesday, he said “all family members living with me are immediate suspects” and pledged to cooperate with police.

The incident comes during a politically sensitive time for the small Pacific island nation. Mr. Abal recently took the reins of power from Prime Minister Michael Somare, Papua New Guinea's founding leader, who temporarily stepped down last December after he was accused of failing to file several annual financial statements in the 1990s.

The 75-year-old Somare is recovering from heart surgery in Singapore.