PNG PM's son facing leadership tribunal | Pacific Beat

PNG PM's son facing leadership tribunal

PNG PM's son facing leadership tribunal

Updated 15 February 2012, 12:25 AEDT

Papua New Guinea's State Enterprises Minister, Arthur Somare will face a Leadership tribunal over misconduct in office charges.

Mr Somare had gone to the National Court seeking a judicial review of charges laid against him by the Ombudsman Commission.

But Arthur Somare who's the son of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, has failed in his attempt to stop his referral to a leadership tribunal.

Presenter: Firmin Nanol

Speaker: Howard Maliso, PNG Ombudsman Commission lawyer

NANOL: PNG's Ombudsman Commission referred Arthur Somare to the Public Prosecutor over alleged failure to submit financial statements over several years and misapplied electoral funding.

The Ombudsman Commission says the Minister has to properly account for public funds meant for projects in his Angoram District electorate.

Mr Somare's lawyers argued in court that the Ombudsman Commission was biased against their client and that he was denied natural justice.

The corruption watchdog investigated Arthur Somare for alleged misapplication of funds meant for district improvement programs in his Angoram electorate since 2002.

His lawyers filed a judicial review, to see if the Ombudsman Commission's conduct in investigating and referring the leader was proper or not.

PNG's Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika ruled against Arthur Somare's review bid and dismissed his grounds for the appeal.

Justice Salika said in his ruling last Friday their arguments had no merit and evidence to show the Ombudsman and its officers were biased, and he rejected the application.

He said the claims that the watchdog was biased, did not accord Mr Somare natural justice to be heard and reply and that the investigations were politically motivated, was all without merit.

The Deputy Chief Justice ruled Mr Somare's claims against the Ombudsman was vexatious and mischievous.

The Ombudsman Commission's lawyer, Howard Maliso says the ruling means the leader will face a leadership tribunal.

He's told Pacific Beat, the ball is now in the Public Prosecutor's court to seek the appointment of a leadership tribunal to hear the misconduct in office charges against Arthur Somare.

MALISO: All the grounds have been dismissed with cost to the correspondents, so this means that the public prosecutor will have to go ahead and activate the Leadership Tribunal.

NANOL: So that means Arthur Somare is going to face the Leadership Tribunal now?

MALISO: That is the position now based on the court's decision. The court is about doing justice and this means doing justice to the person aggrieved and in this case, it's the public and the leader and that is the case now that the court has done justice.

NANOL: Will the Ombudsman Commission or the Public Prosecutor make a new request for the appeal by the tribunal or will the same one continue?

MALISO: That is a matter for the Public Prosecutor now, because the Ombudsman Commission has been challenging the judicial review and now the onus is on the Public Prosecutor to deal with the tribunal aspect of this case.

NANOL: Do you think the applicant will appeal against the decision to try to prolong the prosecution?

MALISO: The court's judgement is what I'm very sure the applicant will seriously take into consideration.

NANOL: So that all the claims by the applicant it was unfortunate biased, there was a breach of natural justice, all this case has been dismissed, the claims?

MALISO: All the grounds, I think there are about 60 or 70 of them and they all have been dismissed with cost to the Ombudsman Commission and to the state.

NANOL: The decision opens the way for Mr Somare to answer the charges before the PNG Leadership Tribunal. A Leadership Tribunal had been appointed to inquire into the allegations, but was aborted following the judicial review case by Mr Somare in 2006.

He is currently in Singapore where his father, Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, is reported to be recovering from heart surgery.

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