Latest Revelations About MP Peter Waieng’s Murder And Alleged Involvement By the Prime Minister
by SOLOMON KEPAS
This is the second of 2 related articles covering the unsolved murder mystery of Papua New Guinea’s former MP and Defence Minister Peter Waieng. The first article discusses the conditions through which social media, public gossip and informal Courts of Public Opinion have achieved some measure of justice when formal justice structures fail. PNG’s formal justice system has failed in the murder case of Peter Waieng and traditional media has also failed to inform the public about this case. Social media has moved to take up the slack.
Introducing Late MP Peter Waieng
Peter Waieng, of Gam Kane heritage and Simbu’s Nar Ku people, was one of the youngest (28) ever elected MPs. Having already earned a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Wollongong, he went into politics in 1997, being elected to serve as Kundiawa-Gembogl MP and Minister of Defence.
Mr Waieng only served one term. After his 2002 loss, he shifted his attention for the next 10 years to business ventures. A decade later, he tried his hand again at politics, running in the 2012 election under the People’s National Congress party, although he knew Peter O’Neill at least a year or more before that. He lost the election badly to Tobias Kulang.
Mr Waieng was generally described as smart, with easy to talk to, charismatic personality. That he exhibited strong compassion was evidenced by his emotion filled 1998 deployment of the Army to move money and supplies to Aitipe after a surprise tsunami killed over 6,000 people.
Someone posted on the internet a story about meeting Waieng in Fiji around the end of 2012. Waieng was trying to get a contract to build the new PNG Embassy in Suva, had brought plans with him, waiting for the arrival of Peter O’Neill.
To be fair, not everything was rosy with Peter Waieng. There were persistent stories of serial adultery and up to 5 wives. There are reports that his family once demanded compensation from at least one of his side women or her family. All this information about the late MP can be found on the internet, and much of it comes straight from published newspaper articles.
Peter Waieng Murder and Arrest of Suspect
Peter Waieng was murdered 22nd August 2013. At the relatively young age of 44, he became a lost opportunity for the Nar Ku people and more generally, Simbu peoples.
It was officially reported that Mr Waieng’s body was found on Roku Beach, located near Napa Napa Refinery southeast of Port Moresby.
Police noted that the late MP suffered 2 knife wounds, one to down his collar bone, the other to the right side of his stomach. He also had a serious wound to the head from being bashed with a heavy object.
Several days after the murder, a Mr Severi Ganiga aged 29, from nearby Roku Village, was arrested and charged with wilful murder and refused bail.
Police reported that Peter Waieng knew Ganiga and that the killing transpired from a drunken argument between them, in the company of a local woman. Supposedly Waieng assaulted the woman and Ganiga responded by hitting Waieng over the head with a stone, then stabbed him in the stomach.
A senior detective assisting in the case said “Peter was not murdered at the scene of crime”. From his observation at the scene of crime at Roku, it appears that the scene of crime was staged. This came from a senior CID officer with 30-plus years of experience and it is consistent with the allegation that Peter was murdered elsewhere and dumped at the scene.
The unnamed woman and a second, male witness who “stumbled onto the scene after the stabbing” provided the witness statements used to arrest Mr Ganiga.
About a week later, Prime Minister O’Neill visited Waieng’s family and relatives, and made sure that a news release was published by The National (4th September 2013), including these quotes: “Many times we hear and read about violence and killings in many parts of the country. It’s as if people have lost respect for life. Life is precious. It is a very special gift from God to each and every one of us. We must protect it. We must respect life and look after ourselves. We are losing lives in senseless ways. This must stop.” “We are all shocked. We all want answers to what happened. We want those involved in this barbaric crime to be brought to justice.” O’Neill told the family and relatives that he would personally task the police commissioner to take charge of the investigation to find out who was in back of the murder.
That’s odd. The first police reports said that the police had arrested the killer, upon the testimony of 2 witnesses. Less than a week later the Prime Minister implied that others were involved and still on the loose, indicating that Peter Waieng’s killing was not the result of him assaulting a local woman on the beach. Why then, this story?
Nothing on the internet or by my recollection of newspaper articles reported further on this case. The name “Severi Ganiga” appears only on the internet with reference to his arrest. The murder of a former MP and Minister of Defence who Prime Minister Peter O’Neill knew very well, supported in the 2012 election, and then promised the grieving family that he would find that justice was served as consolation, vanished into thing air
More than Two Years of Silence Until a Court of Public Opinion Is Convened
There was silence surrounding the murder of Peter Waieng for more than 2 years. It was broken on 22nd October 2015, when the PNG social media took over from the slack PNG traditional media and even slacker PNG police. Facebook site Niugini Outlook published a poster and story about the murder to bring the incident back into the public eye (https://www.facebook.com/niuginioutlook/photos/a.155100324834490.1073741828.154029881608201/168589550152234/?type=3&theater) and invited those who had more information to share what they knew. Niugini Outlook was filling the role of investigator in a social media Court of Public Opinion.
Interesting about the Niugini Outlook news item was the number of commenters who spoke negatively about the fact that the murder case had been made public again. Normally one would expect relatives of the deceased, more than anyone, to demand to know the truth behind the murder, particularly since the Prime Minister himself had promised that justice would be served. Some readers seemed to want the opposite to occur – a continued coverup. Why?
Breakthrough in Peter Waieng Murder Case: 21 June 2016
The case of Peter Waieng’s murder wasn’t mentioned in public again until the day before the Friday Vote of No Confidence against the Prime Minister. On 21st July Paul Reinbara published an article in The PNG News Page (Facebook) reporting that a prime suspect who had been in hiding had been discovered weeping and remorseful at Peter Waieng’s grave on 19th July. He was a former bodyguard of Peter Waieng. At that time he reportedly said he was surrendering and prepared to divulge the truth of who killed Peter Waieng and why.
A subsequent posting carried a photograph of local Simbu people carrying a sign declaring that the Prime Minister was a murderer. That same day, more than a thousand concerned people peacefully gathered in Kundiawa, bringing business to a stop as they demanded that Peter O’Neill step down as Prime Minister.
The timing of all this seemed odd, considering that the Prime Minister was up for the Vote of No Confidence the next day. It was also odd that the Opposition Government quickly put this news up on their Facebook page.
Odder yet, none of this was reported in the Post Courier nor The National, even though the very large protest in Kundiawa by itself would has seemed to merit mention. Add the peoples’ claim that the Prime Minister was involved in the murder and in any normal democracy the story would have made Front Page headlines, even if later the allegation was proven not to be true.
Not so in PNG.
August 2016 Latest Revelations
More information is coming from informants concerning what Peter Waieng’s former Budman (call name Kakaruk) has told people, and also Kundiawa police when they interviewed him (possibly an NBC radio staffer was present). Until he reappeared at Pater Waieng’s grave, Kakaruk’s whereabouts were unknown. He is currently in an informal protective custody at Wandi Village. The new acting Simbu Provincial Police Commander Mr Onopia has confirmed that they have gained have substantial information to assist in a new investigation.
Will we ever be informed what the results of this investigation was as would normally be the case in a functioning democracy?
Here is what we know so far:
Kakaruk said he was one of the five persons who took part in PW's murder, which included other Simbus. We do not know their names.
He stated that Peter Waieng was not murdered at Roku beach but, rather, in his office at L & A Construction. L&A is majority owned by long time O’Neill co-conspirator Luciano Cragnolini, Luciano’s wife (and Peter O’Neill’s mistress) Yumei Ni Cragnolini, with (according to some reports) Peter O’Neill also being part owner. The Prime Minister is said to have installed Waieng in L&A to be his collector/enforcer of arranged backroom kickback agreements. The power to have Waieng hired by L&A suggests that O’Neill does have secret organization in the company.
On the afternoon of the murder, Kakaruk said that Yumei Cragnolini drugged a drink and gave it to Peter Waieng in his office. When he began losing consciousness, others supposedly came in, stabbed and strangled him at the office, then transported the body to Dogura where it was taken by speedboat and dumped at Roku. Kakaruk says that the story about Waieng being hit with a stone, then knived on Roku beach was false.
The motives for killing Waineng as reported by Kakaruk, revolve around money deals gone bad and adultery inspired rage. He states that Peter O’Neill was the sponsor and planner of the murder.
On the money side, several stories exist, not all of them from Waieng’s security guard. One story was that Peter O’Neill was trying to buy into Peter Waieng’s business and he resisted. Kakaruk’s story is that Waieng was murdered because he was not paying out promised kickbacks and bribes, presumably to Peter O’Neill. Supposedly the tipping point related to L&A’s contract to restore the Pineapple Building (for an outrageous contract price), but there were other instances of nonpayment of promised monies. Supposedly Luciano Cragnolini also involved in the dispute over nonpayment of kickbacks and bribes and the Prime Minister wasn’t the only recipient.
On the alleged adultery side of things, supposedly Peter O’Neill was furious that Waieng had forced himself sexually on Yumei Cragnolini. A second story is that the Prime Minister had found out that Waieng had either slept with the PM’s official wife, Lynda Babao, or attempted to.
Analysing the Limited Information Available
That’s not much information. The odd timing of Kakaruk’s appearance is suspicious as was the rapid republication on the Opposition website of the “O’Neill is a murderer” demonstration picture and brief story.
At the same time, examine Peter O'Neill's history (quite a bit of information is on the internet, scattered around, and much is credible) and certain recurring themes are revealed.
1. Money deals involving kickbacks: First comes the picture of a person who avidly hunts business deals and scams (http://www.pngblogs.com/2015/10/a-comprehensive-analysis-of-peter-paire_26.html). When Peter O’Neill sees something that he thinks can make him a lot of money, "obsession" would not be too strong a word to describe his level of motivation.
Several O’Neill ‘business deals’ appear very much like hidden kickbacks were structured into them. The NPF fraud Commission of Inquiry Report clearly documents kickbacks to Jimmy Maladina, much of which was transferred to O’Neill.
The Prime Minister’s hurried, dance around the tendering procedures purchase of 2 generators from the Israeli LR Group that weren’t even commissioned for at least 2 years after they arrived in PNG, smacks of hidden kickback. LR does a lot of business in highly corrupt African countries such as Angola, where kickbacks are common, just like in PNG. Furthermore, it would have been cheaper and more logical to purchase the generators straight from American manufacturer General Electric.
The equally hurried UBS bank loan deal that the usually non-emotional O’Neill showed clear emotional joy over is bizarre considering what its achievements were. Some kind of backroom profiting is suspect.
2. Relationship with L&A Construction: Peter O’Neill’s relationship with L & A Construction is well documented. He started doing deals with L&A founder Luciano Cragnolini before he was Prime Minister. During his short service (2010-2011) as Minister of Finance & Treasury, O’Neill paid considerable money to L&A to supposedly renovate Parliament House. Later Haus Morauta was renovated, with reports that much of the contract money was actually used by L&A to build O’Neill’s Paddy’s Hotel in Boroko. A PNG Blogs article (http://www.pngblogs.com/2015/10/a-comprehensive-analysis-of-peter-paire_26.html) advised that a complete audit of O’Neill’s account books would reveal that Peter O’Neill spent little of his own money on building Paddy’s. Neither contract went through a legal tendering process. The Pineapple Building rehabilitation contract also went to L&A and was conspicuously overpriced, as contracts are when kickback monies are included.
3. Using threats to get his way: The Prime Minister’s occasional display of thug like behavior in forcing his business deals and interests were already apparent during the late 1990s when he is said to have forced the sale to him of a real estate business. The idea that he forced himself onto L&A Construction, using Peter Waieng as a trusted crony who betrayed him and was rewarded accordingly is thus not far fetched. There were a least 2 stories broadcast by the PNG media around the time he first became Prime Minister with people complaining that O’Neill had sent people to intimidate or harass them.
4. Sexual dalliance: The whole idea that Peter Waieng may have been murdered over sex-related jealousy is very plausible. A recent analysis that Peter O’Neill has sufficient traits to be labeled a psychopath (http://www.pngblogs.com/2016/07/evidence-that-peter-oneill-is.html) included the trait of “promiscuous sexual behavior, many short-term relationships”.
That Peter O’Neill has long had a sexual relationship with Luciano Cragnolini’s wife Yumei Cragnolini is a nondebated fact amongst those in the know in Port Moresby.
Peter O’Neill’s ability to become enraged at matters sexual was famously demonstrated at George’s Bar Airways on Monday night, 2 July 2012. Yumei Ni Cragnolini’s step son (Luciano Cragnolini’s biological son) Damon got into an argument with an inebriated O’Neill over O’Neill’s sexual intrusions into the Cragnolini family. The caretaker Prime Minister went into a rage and nearly killed Damon with his bare fists.
Late Peter Waieng also had a reputation as an adulterer. For the Prime Minister and Waieng to tangle over Yumei Cragnolini in particular is very possible.
5. Murder contracts: Peter O’Neill would be no stranger to the concept of Prime Ministers in PNG having people murdered. His old friend, former PM Bill Skate was secretly videotaped by Australian businessman Mujo Sefa (a conman himself) in the late 1990’s, bragging about how he ordered contract killings. The Skate victim was a security guard who worked for Skate's biggest archrival at the time, Port Moresby Lord Mayor David Unagi. As the story by insiders is told, Unagi was trying to intimidate Skate that day and had sent one of his security guards to tail Skate into a settlement area. Skate retaliated by getting the word out to his people by arranging to have his own security ambush and murder Unagi’s hired stalker.
6. Hiding the truth through opposite words: The Prime Minister’s pleas to the nation to end random violence, and vows made to the late Peter Waieng’s relatives when he visited the haus krai in Simbu, fit his now widely known style of saying something completely opposite to what he does. He could have had Waieng killed one day, then shed tears over his death the next to cover up that involvement.
Government Nonperformance Forces Articles Like This One
This article would not exist if the police would have done their job in investigating the Waieng murder and revealing what they learnt all along the way. Any court prosecution would have later been covered by the media.
It would never have been written if our government was the kind that openly provides information to media and the public without being forced. The fact that the current government will not even divulge to the people what happened to the 2015 and 2016 government earnings from LNG sales, a substantial amount of money, illustrates how secretive and nondemocratic it is.
The newspapers either collude with the government in not seeking out information that would be potentially embarrassing, or the nonreporting is caused by hiring low capacity reporters who are uninterested in sniffing out and publishing stories of broad public interest.
I make no claim that all information presented in this article is the truth. What I am reporting on is what has been reported about the Peter Waieng murder. We feel obligated to do this because the police had 3 years to solve the case and have done nothing obvious to keep the case alive.
If the police won’t do its job and the media won’t do its job, the rest of us can either sit and shake our heads in disgust or we can do something about it. The purpose of this citizen investigation and reporting is to pressure those who should be doing this work to get off their bums and start performing. If they continue being slack, we will continue bringing this case up and soliciting new information until the family of Peter Waieng finally sees justice from the murder of a promising and intelligent leader of Simbu.
Whoever murdered, assisted the murder, or ordered the murder of late Peter Waieng should face the wrath of justice for the sake of the family. If PNG’s formal system of justice will not perform, it is up to informal citizen investigations to provide the information that can be processed by a Court of Public Opinion. That’s better than seeing no justice at all.
Anyone with insider information is invited to come forward and share what they know with PNG Blogs. firstname.lastname@example.org.