By JULIA DAIA BORE
THERE was excitement in the air as early as 8am yesterday when the fenced-in car park at the Waigani and Supreme Court premises started filling up, The National reports.
It was the first day of a leadership tribunal hearing charges of misconduct in office against Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, scheduled for 9.30am.
The court’s security personnel were busy at work marking out the parking spaces with signposts and erecting bright orange traffic cones to indicate who should park where. Lines were clearly drawn to indicate where the prime minister and his entourage would park their cars, where the team from the office of the public prosecutor and the Ombudsman Commission was to be accommodated and what was reserved for the public.
Reporters from The National, who had arrived at the courthouse as early as 7.30am, were informed that only 10 seats were reserved for the media in courtroom one (an area which can seat up to 110 people).
Entry was closely monitored with specially designated areas and controlled seating.
Just before 9am, the prime minister arrived under the escort of a single 10-seater police van. Sir Michael walked into the court premises like any ordinary person going to court and entered courtroom one, accompanied by National Alliance general secretary Stephen Pokawin and other party executives.
Following them were Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare (prime minister’s son) and Betha Somare (who is the prime minister’s daughter and press secretary) in the company of other government ministers and MPs.
Almost two-thirds of the National Executive Council members were present for the opening day of the leadership tribunal yesterday.
At 9.28am, tribunal chairman Roger Gyles and co-judges Sir Bruce Robertson and Sir Robin Auld took up their seats inside the courtroom.
The tribunal was in session at 9.30am.