Image: Sam Abal, acting Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
Dave Hunt  /  AAP via AP, file
Sam Abal, acting Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, said he had personally reported the "alleged murder" to authorities. His adopted son has been detained.
msnbc.com news services
updated 6/15/2011 7:34:33 AM ET 2011-06-15T11:34:33

Papua New Guinea police arrested the adopted son of the South Pacific island nation's acting prime minister after a woman's body was found at their family home, an official said Wednesday.

Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal, who is standing in for Prime Minister Michael Somare while Somare recovers from heart surgery in Singapore, was not at the property in the capital Port Moresby when the body was found. Abal said he had personally reported the "alleged murder" to authorities.

Police Commissioner Anthony Wagambie said Abal's son Teo was detained for questioning over the death. Police have described their inquiries as a murder investigation.

Banana garden
In a statement reported by PNG media, Abal said he had contacted police about the woman's death at his home.

"All family members living with me are immediate suspects and are subject to investigation and questioning by police," he said, pledging to cooperate with the investigation.

"If any of my family members are involved, they will face the full brunt of the law and will not be treated differently from anyone else in similar situations."

Wagambie said Tuesday that the acting prime minister had been away from the house and had been alerted to the death by a security guard who found the woman's body in a banana garden within the grounds of the premises.

Wagambie earlier said a witness had seen Teo Abal and the woman walking in the garden, and then heard a woman's scream from the garden.

Police have not said how the woman died or released her identity.

No charges have been filed. However, Teo Abal faces a possible death sentence if convicted of murder.

Political turmoil
The case adds to the political turmoil in Papua New Guinea where governments are historically unstable and stained with allegations of corruption and nepotism.

Somare, 75, the island nation's founding leader, has led the country for half of its time as an independent nation. He stepped down in December because of ill health and to clear his name before a tribunal that is investigating allegations that he failed to disclose his full income. He is accused of failing to submit full income returns going back nearly 20 years.

Papua New Guinea, which shares the island of New Guinea with Indonesia, is rich in resources and site of a $15 billion liquefied natural gas project led by Exxon Mobil.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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