KOKOPO-based judge Justice Salatiel Lenalia replaces Sir Kubulan Los as chairman of the Arthur Somare leadership tribunal, The National reports.
The tribunal will begin sitting on July 4 at 9.30am at the Waigani National and Supreme Court room No.7.
At that time, Somare, the member for Angoram and Minister for Public Enterprises, will know whether he is suspended from office for the duration of the tribunal.
Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia made the announcement in Port Moresby yesterday, confirming that the two other members of the tribunal would remain. They are principal magistrate Orim Karapo and senior magistrate Noreen Kanasa, who were appointed in 2006 by the former (and now deceased) Chief Justice Sir Mari Kapi.
The appointment of the new chairman followed the decision of the National Court last Friday, in OS No. 818 of 2006 (judicial review) Arthur Somare versus Ila Geno & Others, which dismissed those proceedings.
Sir Salamo said last Friday’s decision handed down by Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika effectively paved the way for the new chairman to be appointed.
Sir Kubulan has retired.
In a statement yesterday, the chief justice invited parties to file necessary documents to the tribunal via the National Court registry.
In reference to whether the leader holds office during the duration of the tribunal hearing, the CJ said in a media statement that “for avoidance of doubt, pursuant to section 28 of the Organic Law on Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership and the latest decision of the Supreme Court on the question of suspension in Patrick Pruaitch V Chronox Manek & Others (2011) SC 1093, the question of suspension, if any, is to be determined by the tribunal”.
The tribunal will look into allegations of official misconduct against Somare.