Locals on Manus Island are furious Port Moresby has taken over the police investigation into claims three Australian men gang-raped a woman.
Manus provincial police had threatened to storm the immigration detention centre, where the men worked as guards, to arrest managers for perverting the course of justice unless the trio was returned to the island for questioning.
The men, who were stood down and sent home following a mid-July incident, could have faced a death sentence if convicted.
Local MP Ron Knight said provincial police commander Alex N’Drasal had been sidelined and PNG Police Commissioner Garry Baki was now responsible for the case.
He said there were community concerns the victim would not get justice.
“I’m not happy about it, it has dragged on too long and should have been handled right away,” he told AAP on Monday.
“What are the chances of the men being apprehended and sent back?”
Mr Knight knows the female victim personally and says she’s getting support from her family but there was no formal trauma counselling or psychological assistance available on the island for locals.
“She’s quite upset and angry about (the delays) and so is her father,” he said.
“If it was a local who did the same thing you’d expect the girl’s relatives to give him a good hiding and he would be in jail.”
Rape convictions in PNG carry the death penalty.
Mr Knight believes Australian authorities are trying to prevent potential executions following the deaths of two Australian drug smugglers in Indonesia.
The immigration department has previously denied there had been a cover-up of the incident.
Comment has been sought from Mr Baki.