The head of Papua New Guinea Law Society, Kerenega Kua, has returned to work after spending weeks hiding in his home province in PNG after a PGK100,000 ($41,000) bounty was placed on his head.
The jurisdiction's Post-Courier reports the respected local lawyer went into hiding, along with the managing director of Motor Vehicle Insurance (MVIL), John Mua, after they discovered a bounty had been placed on both their heads.
MVIL is currently the target of $3.15 million in claims from the Yama Group, owned by controversial businessman and former MP Peter Yama. Kua, currently a senior partner at Posman Kua Aisi Lawyers, is representing MVIL in the case, indicating the bounty and the court case are connected.
Yama Group itself is currently embroiled in a court case against Bank South Pacific (BSP), which is seeking to recover $16 million in debts owed to it by Yama Group, including MVIL's outstanding funds. The case has resulted in a series of attacks and threats against Gadens Lawyers' Port Moresby staff, which eventually forced the firm to withdraw from representing its client, BSP, while the firm's partners remain under 24-hour armed guard.
Papua New Guinea Chamber of Commerce and Industry president John Leahy reacted publicly to the latest revelations, saying they had significant implications for the safety of lawyers and the judiciary.
"Members of the judiciary and the legal profession must not be threatened or intimidated in the course of their duties by unscrupulous individuals," he told the Post-Courier.