Convicted rapist wins parliamentary seat | Pacific Beat

Convicted rapist wins parliamentary seat

Convicted rapist wins parliamentary seat

Posted 26 July 2007, 16:18 AEST

A former Papua New Guinea Governor convicted of rape has been re-elected to the PNG Parliament.

James Yali was sentenced to 12 years in prison for raping a 17-year old girl in 2004.

NANOL: P-N-G's Electoral Commission allowed James Yali to contest the election from prison.

It argued Yali appealed and while the PNG Supreme court was yet to determine his innocence, he can stand for public office.

James Yali is a prisoner and had no right to move freely to campaign.

He used the hospital bed to launch his campaign after he was admitted for suffering a stroke earlier in May.

Yali was released back to prison days before polling commenced for the 2007 national elections.

He retained his seat in P-N-G's Madang province from behind bars after he scored more than 5400 votes.

Local observers say James Yali won from sympathy voting and fear of black magic and cargo cult. James's father Yali was a well-known cargo cult-figure in Madang province.

James Yali is in jail and was not present to witness and sign his election victory last night.

Madang's Acting Beon Jail Commander, Philip Gabu says Yali could be released upon legal advise on his appeal.

GABU:Yes he is currently held in the jail. I think we will be waiting for clarification from the PNG Electoral Commissioner, probably his lawyer and the Attorney General. I think his application is still pending.

NANOL: But every effort is being made to get James Yali out of prison.

His lawyer Greg Sheppard says an application is being filed for the courts to grant bail to James Yali so he can attend parliament sessions.

SHEPPARD: We'll have to apply for bail and in fact I have just received instructions to do that on his behalf for him to be released on bail so that he can attend parliament. It is actually being field already and a single judge of the Supreme Court didn't deal it with. It was said that it had to go to the full court. So we are just waiting on an appointment with the full court. All I can say is that there are grounds to make an application. There are precedents that we can refer the court to and direct their attention towards and they we will be submitting that he ought to be granted bail and we'' have to leave to them to see the outcome.

NANOL: But lawyer Greg Sheppard says the Supreme Court is yet to rule on Yali's rape conviction appeal.

He says Yali has strong grounds for his appeal to be quashed.

SHEPPARD: It was a very serious appeal and it has obviously taken quite a long time to deal with it so I think it is under serious consideration.

NANOL: James Yali will know his fate whether he remains in jail for 12 years or enjoy the next 5 years in parliament, when the Supreme Court rules on his appeal.

Yali's Rai Coast voters in P-N-G's Madang province may go back to fresh elections if the supreme court upholds the 12 year rape conviction.

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