Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Prime minister's tribunal to cost K1 million



THE leadership tribunal, probing misconduct charges against Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, will cost more than K1 million, The National reports.

The tribunal had been scheduled to begin on March 10, and would go on for about six weeks.

Government insiders said funding for the tribunal would come out from the judiciary’s K69.6 million recurrent budget.

The National could not verify the budget report with the office of the chief justice and other judiciary administrators.

Preparations for the tribunal were nearing completion.

Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia announced the tribunal panel on Monday, comprising three pre-eminent retired judges from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The panel would be chaired by Australian Roger Gyles, who was a former judge with the federal court of Australia, the supreme court of Australian Capital Territory and the supreme court of New South Wales.

Members on the tribunal included a former judge of the federal high court of New Zealand who is now serving in Vanuatu and Samoa Sir Bruce Robertson and Sir Robin Auld, president of the court of appeal of Solomon Islands. Auld was the former lord justice of the court of appeal and high court of England and Wales and a former judge of the high court of justice of the Queen’s Bench division of England and Wales.

The prime minister had been cited for the alleged non-acquittal and late acquittals of annual returns between 1994 and 1997.

On Dec 16 last year, acting Public Prosecutor Jim Wala Tamate wrote to the chief justice requesting for a leadership tribunal to be appointed to look into these allegations. The prime minister was referred to the public prosecutor by the Ombudsman Commission in 2006.

In an interview on Monday, Tamate said: “I did what I had to do, without fear or favour, in the course of performing my duties as the acting public prosecutor.

“I performed my duties in making this referral (to the CJ) and, in doing so, as a service to the people of PNG.”


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