Thursday, September 01, 2011

Wartoto’s bail challenge quashed


THE Waigani District Court yesterday threw out an application by the prosecution to cancel Kokopo businessman Eremas Wartoto's bail, The National reports.
The application was thrown out because there was no evidence supporting the bid to revoke the police bail of K5,000.
The prosecutor in charge of the matter made two separate submissions in court.
The first was to have the hearing adjourned to Sept 30 and that was granted by the court.
However, the second application to revoke Wartoto's bail with conditions imposed on him was not entertained.
In the submission, the prosecutor said senior officers at the Boroko police station had allowed Wartoto bail while overlooking the informant's request to have the bail refused in order for Wartoto to apply for it in court.
The court was told there were other charges to follow those already laid against the defendant.
Wartoto has been charged with two counts of misappropriation allegedly committed in 2009.
It was indicated that several charges for alleged offences committed in 2010 and this year would follow.
The prosecution sought to have Wartoto's passport surrendered to court.
The court was asked that if it decided not to revoke bail, an additional bail be imposed on Wartoto.
Wartoto's lawyer, Alfred Manase of Manase and Company Lawyers, argued that there was no evidence to substantiate the assumptions by the prosecution.
Manase said his client had cooperated with police by attending interviews.
He said police had the power to grant bail to defendants charged with misappropriation.
Manase said Wartoto needed his passport to travel overseas to oversee business interests.
He said Wartoto had businesses in the country
and "such a man will not simply run and hide from justice".
"He is a local businessman and should be supported to continue business to help the country," Manase said.
He said interviews in relation to the issue in court were complete.
After hearing the arguments, magistrate Cosmas Bidar ruled the right to bail was a constitutional right and unless there was new evidence or a change of circumstances, Wartoto's bail of K5,000 would be extended.
"Because the defendant is a businessman and needs to travel, no orders will be made in respect to his passport," Bidar ruled.
Wartoto, from Raburua Village, in Gazelle district, East New Britain, is alleged to have dishonestly put to use monies belonging to the State on separate occasions in 2009.
It is alleged that between Jan 30 and June 3, 2009, Wartoto, being the director and principal signatory to the Sarakolok West Transport Ltd's account, dishonestly applied to his and others' use K6,791,408.20.
The money was drawn from the company's ANZ account number 12621572 in Kokopo.
And, on Oct 14, 2009, in Kokopo, the defendant is alleged to have put to his
and others' use K1,197,483.80 drawn from the same
company's Westpac bank account number 600017950.
The monies allegedly belonged to the State.
Manase told the court that Sarakolok West Transport was Wartoto's  private company, had been contracted by Kerevat National High School and had been entitled to about
K8 million.
Wartoto's lawyer said the allegations of misappropriation that was raised from transactions made on these payments would be challenged in a proper court hearing.
The matter will be heard on Sept 30

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