PNG woman jailed for drug smuggling

A PAPUA New Guinean woman has been sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in jail for smuggling almost four kilograms of methylamphetamine, or ice, into Australia.

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Mary Yawari, 42, was arrested at Cairns Airport in far north Queensland in October 2013 when she stepped off an Air Niugini flight from Port Moresby.

She has been in custody since her arrest.

Three packages of drugs with an estimated street value of A$5 million (K10.5m) were found hidden in a false bottom in her checked baggage.

Customs officers uncovered 3.97kg of methylamphetamine with about 75 per cent purity, equating to 2.97kg of pure methylamphetamine.

Yawari faced a sentencing hearing in the Supreme Court in Cairns last Thursday.

She pleaded guilty to trafficking commercial quantities of illicit drugs, but claimed the suitcase was packed by her boyfriend – a South African man living in PNG – who asked her to deliver it to his friends.

Yawari said was unaware of the contents of the suitcase, except that they were “presents” for her boyfriend’s friends, whom she did not know.

Commonwealth prosecutor Andrew Lloyd said Yawari told police her boyfriend drove her to Port Moresby airport the morning of her flight.

“He gave her the suitcase at the airport and she did not previously know he was going to give her a suitcase,” Mr Lloyd told the court.

“You might recall, your honour, she said in her responses to Customs she said she was given the suitcase the day before.

“She stated [her boyfriend’s] friends would meet her [in Cairns] and get the bag at her hotel.

“She then corrected herself that she would stay a night in Cairns and [her boyfriend] would send her a ticket to Adelaide where the bag would be collected by friends [of her boyfriend]… who she said would be waiting for her at the airport.”

The court heard Yawari, a mother of four, was the second wife of the late governor of Southern Highlands, Hami Yawari.

Justice Jim Henry did not accept Yawari’s denial of culpability, saying she was effectively a drug mule who rolled the dice for a free trip to Australia.

Papua New Guinea Politician Dies in Philippines

A Papua New Guinea politician who had gone for medical check in the Philippines has died. The Member for Goilala district in the Central Province, Daniel Mona, was confirmed dead today while undergoing medical attention in the Philippines. The news of Mr Mona’s passing came as a shock to immediate families, relatives, friends and colleagues back home. Mr Mona, a journ

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Late Daniel Mona

alist by profession and first-term MP was ill and admitted at the Port Moresby General hospital around October last year. According to his close associates, Mr Mona was diagnosed with malaria symptoms and was admitted at the Port Moresby General hospital. He could not recover and was recommended to seek further medical attention overseas. He was flown to Philippines for further medical help but succumbed to the illness. His body is expected to return to the country this week.

Tiensten convicted again on K3.4 million fraud

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Paul Tiensten

By SAM KOIM (Taskforce Sweep Chairman)

The Kokopo National Court has convicted State prisoner and former Member for Pomio, Paul Tiensten relating to another fraud case. The allegations in this case stem from a K3.4m that was earmarked for Karlai plantation in the Pomio district but Mr Tiensten used his position as Minister and diverted the funds from the National Planning Department to a company that he had immediate control.

ITFS investigated the allegations and charged Mr Tiensten. The trial was concluded in September 2013 and after more than a year and four months of waiting, the verdict was delivered today in Kokopo.

Mr Tiensten is currently serving a nine year jail term at the Bomana prison facility outside Port Moresby for his role in directing a payment of K10m to Travel Air Ltd, a company owned by controversial Kokopo businessman, Eremas Wartoto.

Mr Tiensten is now awaiting sentencing on this fresh case concerning the K3.4m. My sincere thanks to those who involved in securing this conviction including the Office of the Public Prosecutor.

This conviction adds to the list of high profile cases initiated by ITFS. “Mipla daun tasol mipla stil wok na ol wok i stil karim kaikai yet.” Despite the funding constraints, we are still seeing the fruits of our hard work. We have 91 cases currently in court and we are managing them to ensure trials are completed without any disruptions.

NAMAH VS PRUAITCH

PAPUA NEW GUINEAS former opposition leader and one-time deputy Prime Minister, Belden Namah has accused the country’s Treasurey Minister Patrick Pruaitch for illegally occupying the ministey. Mr Namah who is the Vanimo-Green MP made this known during a parliament sitting last week. He sought leave of Parliament during questio

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BELDEN NAMAH

n time to ask the Speaker of Parliament on whether his (Speaker’s) office was aware of a Supreme Court decision that dismissed Mr Pruaitch’s appeal against his referral by the Ombudsman Commission. Mr Namah produced a copy of the court order and stressed that according to his interpretation of the court order, Mr Pruaitch was no longer in power and should not be holding office or even attend to parliament. He said the court order was delivered on December last year and was in force. He asked the office of the Speaker to consult the Supreme Court Registry to confirm and be advised on the court judgement. Mr Pruaitch who is the Aitape-Lumi MP rebated the claims of Mr Namah and said that the there were no such Supreme Court decision. He said his court appeal is pending before the Supreme Court and what Mr Namah was referring to was a National Court order that dismissed his attempet to seek court order to make discovery of the Ombudsman Commission investigation against him. He also said that Mr Namah had abused his parliamentry privilages by bringing matters that are pending in court into parliament. Mr Pruaitch said the outburst by Mr Namah in the floor of parliament was a tolal abuse of parliamenty protocal and standing orders. Mr Pruaitch was referred to the ombudsman commission for misappropriation allegations in 2010. He sucssefully obtained a stay order, stopping a leadership tribunal from proceeding appealing against his refferal. The Speaker’s office advised Mr Namah that they will findout out and respond in the week.

JAILED PNG PARLIAMENTARIAN PURSUE BAIL APPLICATION

Jailed Komo-Magarima MP Francis Potape appeared at the Waigani National Court yesterday before Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia for the directions hearing for his bail application. He was escorted by Correctional Service officers into a packed court from filled with relatives and supporters. At the hearing, Mr Potape’s lawyer, Justin Haiara sought for an adjournment to file a fresh application since argument arose over one of the grounds raised in the current application. The application raised two main grounds- first was that there was good prospect or chance of success for the appeal against the conviction and the second grounds relate to medical grounds. However the lawyer for the State objected to the first ground and argued that the grounds raised were not specified in the affidavits. Chief Justice Sir Salamo also pointed out that the form relied upon in the application did not specify the grounds on which the argument would be based upon. The judge said the correct form would be form 44 of the Supreme Court rules. The Chief Justice therefore asked Mr Haiara if he wished to amend the application or file a fresh application. Mr Haiara told the court that he would file a fresh application and requested the court to adjourn the matter to next week Thursday for the hearing of the fresh application. The Chief Justice agreed and made directions for the matter to be adjourned to next Thursday and also directed Mr Haiara to file a fresh application for bail. Mr Potape was sentence to two years and six months in prison early this month by the National court over misappropriation charges. The court found that Mr Potape and other Joint District Planning and Budget Priorities Committee members in the Komo-Magarima district passed a resolution on November 20, 2010, and paid themselves K330,000 of public funds as outstanding allowances. Of the K330,000 , Mr Potape received K60,000 while the other members received K30,000 each. Mr Potape repaid the amount in full prior to his sentencing. He was initially given a five year sentence but the court deducted half of the sentence and ordered him to serve two year and six months in prison.

Jailed PNG politican Francis Potape, who is the member for Komo-Magarima district in the Hela Province.
Jailed PNG politican Francis Potape, who is the member for Komo-Magarima district in the Hela Province.

 

Court trial date to be fixed for controvesal PNG businessman Eremas Wartoto

By SAMUEL RAITANO

PNG BUSINESSMAN Eremas Wartoto and the state have been directed by the National

Businessman Eremas Wartoto in front of one of his plane. He owns Travel Air aviation which now services local destinations in the country.
Businessman Eremas Wartoto in front of one of his plane. He owns Travel Air aviation which now services local destinations in the country.

Court to submit pre-trial statements by February 16. This will allow for a date to be set for trial relating to five separate charges against Wartoto. The five charges involve allegations of misappropriation, false pretence, conspiracy and money laundering.  Wartoto appeared in court briefly yesterday but his lawyer was not able to stand before the bar as he had not renewed his practicing license. However, Terry Injia from Steeles Lawyers stood in and assisted the court by obtaining permission to have the parties prepare their pre-trial statements. Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika said the trial date will be set on February 16 when the parties appear in court with their completed pre-trial statements.

PNG Judiciary to build new court complex

By SAMUEL RAITANO

THE official opening of the 2015 legal year yesterday coincided with the ground breaking ceremony for a new National Court complex at the Waigani National and

PNG Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia steps out of a dozer after the official ground breaking ceremony for the new court complex.
PNG Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia steps out of a dozer after the official ground breaking ceremony for the new court complex.

Supreme Court premises. The grounding breaking ceremony was officiated by Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia in front of all members of the legal fraternity, other guests and members of the public. Sir Salamo said the complex will hopefully be completed by May 2018, and should be in operation when the APEC Summit is held in the capital city.The complex will comprise of a new building housing the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, National Court, 14 courtrooms and other rooms for registry and administrative functions. He said the detailed design of the facility will be due for completion in May this year and starting July, the main construction will commence. With its completion in 2018, the existing court operations will move into the new building whilst the old building will be vacated for refurbishment. Contracts for preparatory and temporary site facilities have awarded to Global Construction and Avenell Engineering Services. Procurement of the main building contractor for the facility will commence in the middle of this year. The National Budget allocation for the project for this year is K180 million. The total estimated appropriation for the project over 4 years is at a tune of K610 million. Sir Salamo also mentioned that Australia has indicated to assist with K100 million.