Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court has quashed a long-standing arrest warrant for official corruption against Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.
- The warrant was issued in 2014 and accused the PM of directing corrupt payments
- Supreme Court says the warrant was 'defective', had spelling errors and was incomplete
- Mr O'Neill says the charges were politically motivated
The Supreme Court has found the warrant, issued for Mr O'Neill in 2014, failed to meet a number of requirements and was issued without jurisdiction.
The three-man bench of the Supreme Court found police did not follow PNG's arrest regulations in filling out the form, that the warrant did not contain the legally-required information and that officers misspelt the word "independent".
"It follows that the warrant is defective on its face and the decision to issue it is equally defective," the judgement said.
"The lack of care in its preparation is also concerning."
Anti-corruption police had accused Mr O'Neill of directing that corrupt payments be made to law firm Paul Paraka Lawyers, but the Prime Minister refused to comply with the warrant and fought it in the courts.
Mr O'Neill has long maintained the charge was politically motivated, and said the Supreme Court had stopped his political opponents from misusing the judicial process.
"From the start this was a political witch hunt," he said.
"It's a decision against people who are maliciously using our government agencies and the courts to try and get political merit out of such attempts that they have tried to use, making political cases against leaders in our country.
"I hope that this is a lesson not only to those who wish to form future governments but also to leaders who continuously want to embark on using agencies to pursue their political ambitions is something we must discourage in this country."
Mr O'Neill thanked supporters and said the experience had strengthened his resolve.
He urged police to pursue "the real culprits involved".
"Certainly we want to know who has personally benefitted from these particular contracts that were given to these law firms," he said.
Mr O'Neill also said the resolution of the case would allow his Government to deliver on its promise to introduce an Independent Commission Against Corruption.