PNG top cop jailed, bailed and knighted

Papua New Guinea’s police commissioner has been jailed, bailed and knighted in the space of a weekend.


And in what could make for one of the most awkward knighting ceremonies in history, the judge who sentenced commissioner Tom Kulunga on Friday, Gibbs Salika, has also been knighted as part of the Queen’s 2014 birthday honours list.

Mr Kulunga was sentenced on Friday to seven months hard labour after the national court found him guilty on three contempt charges for failing to follow through on an earlier court order to reinstate a sacked policeman.

Port Moresby-based The Post Courier reports Mr Kulunga was released late on Friday night on $A4128 bail.

On Saturday it was announced Mr Kulunga would become a Knight Bachelor for services to policing, while Justice Salika would become a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the judiciary.

Despite his legal problems, Mr Kulunga’s knighthood will stand until after his case reaches appeal, said Tipo Vuatha, official secretary to PNG governor-general Sir Michael Ogio.

“According to the chairman [of the honours committee], we cannot do much,” Mr Vuatha told AAP.

“His case is still pending because of the appeal, so therefore what has been given will stand until the case is heard again.”

A knighthood ceremony is expected in Port Moresby in October, Mr Vuatha said.

A spokesman for Mr Kulunga has not responded to questions from AAP.

In making his judgement on Friday, Justice Salika noted Mr Kulunga’s 40 years of service to PNG policing, but said he had no choice but to reinstate the sacked officer pursuant to the original 2012 court order.