Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Prime minister attempts to stop tribunal

PRIME Minister Sir Michael Somare yesterday filed an urgent application to stop the leadership tribunal from convening tomorrow to hear allegations of misconduct in office against him, The National reports.

The application was filed yesterday by the prime minister’s legal team, headed by overseas counsel Ian Molloy.

Documents relating to the application were then immediately served on the Ombudsman Commission and the public prosecutor’s office yesterday afternoon.

Acting Public Prosecutor Jim Wala Tamate had confirmed receiving the documents.

Although removed as the public prosecutor, he would remain in office until March 17 and may have a last say in appointing the leading prosecuting lawyer for the case.

Tamate said the office would support the ombudsman and fight the application when the tribunal starts its session tomorrow.

Tamate said a team of public prosecutors, headed by senior prosecutor Kaluwin Pondros, was ready to present to the tribunal its case relating to the allegations that Sir Michael had failed to report on his annual returns for a specified period.

Yesterday’s application was to stop the tribunal from proceeding until a Supreme Court application (of the originating summons) filed last Saturday, questioning the constitutionality of the Ombudsman Commission’s referral of Sir Michael to the public prosecutor, was heard and ruled upon.

The matter came before Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia on Monday and was adjourned to next Monday.

In his original originating summons of October 2008, the prime minister had alleged that former chief ombudsman Ila Geno had made certain important decisions concerning him and his referral without involving a properly constituted quorum (meeting) of the commissioners as required by the Organic Law.

Meanwhile, all three members of the tribunal are expected to fly into Port Moresby today in preparation for tomorrow’s start to the hearing of charges against the prime minister.


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