Man found guilty of K5.3 million fraud

A man charged with misappropriating K5.3 million was found guilty by the Waigani National Court in Port Moresby today.

David Kumalau Pondros, 47, of Timoenai village in the Manus province is among list of others that were investigation by the Investigation Task Force Sweep (ITSF).

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Mr Pondros obtained a K6 million under National Agriculture Development Program administered by the National Planning Department in the pretext of doing some projects but the Court found there was no evidence of spending K5.3m for the purposes of the project, according to social media post by the now disbanded Task Force Sweep Chairman Sam Koim.

The matter was adjourned to May 8 for submissions on verdict.

This is yet another success story of ITFS work.

Meanwhile, Mr Pondros is currently serving a term of 5 years for misappropriating K400,000 to build a jetty in Oro province, another ITFS case.

Mr Koim acknowledged the efforts by the Prosecutor, witnesses, and policemen involved in securing the conviction.

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Supreme Court refuse Ombudsman’s application

A COURT application by the Ombudsman Commission to prevent Parliament from deliberating on the proposed increase on nomination fee and petition filing fee has been refused by the Supreme Court.

This means the recent amendments to section 103(2) of the Constitution and section 87 and 209 of the Organic Law on the National, Provincial and Local-Level Government elections by parliament will remain.

The Ombudsman Commission last month filed an application for an injunction to prevent Parliament from debating, deliberating and voting on National Election nomination fee and petition filing fee.

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Waigani National and Supreme Courts

The Supreme Court refused the application last Friday on grounds that it could not interfere with Parliament to deliberate on the proposed increase in nomination fees from K1000 to K10,000 and petition filing fee from K5000 to K20,000.

The proposed law was to amend section 103(2) of the Constitution and sections 87 and 209 of the Organic Law on National and Provincial and Local-Level Government Elections. The Government needs two-thirds majority (75 MPs) to pass the constitutional amendment at the last session of Parliament starting on March 28 before the National Election.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has welcomed the Supreme Court decision saying it would enable Parliament to decide if election nomination and petitioning fees would be adjusted.

He said the proposed amendments would strengthen democratic process to enable true contenders to stand for elections, and would help prevent the malicious use of the court system after elections.

“The proposed changes are commonsense and the Supreme Court has made its ruling.

“It is now up to the Parliament to debate and then to vote on this issue, as is the democratic process of our country.

“Ours is a robust democracy, a democracy where the rule of law is respected and protected, and this has been reinforced by the Supreme Court decision.

“The proposed amendments to electoral laws will mark an important point in the ongoing evolution of the electoral process in our country.

“A natural evolution of any economy is that prices and costs will increase over time.

“Election nomination fee has not changed since 1992, while incomes have increased since 1992, consumer prices have increased since 1992 and it is only natural that other costs increase over a quarter of a century.

“Too often we have seen our electoral process manipulated and distorted by people who are not seeking election, but are playing a strategic game to manipulate the outcome for other candidates.

“We want serious contenders to stand for elections, men and women who are serious about representing their people and serving the collective interest of the nation.”
Source: PC

Young Papua New Guinean jailed abroad for murder

A YOUNG Papua New Guinean was sentenced to 22 years in prison by the Australian court for willful murder.

Sigaragh (Steven) Baea, 22, murdered the mother of his old school friend allegedly over jealousy.

The Age reports that Baea must serve at least 17 years for the fit of rage in which he stabbed Prasad Somawansa 38 times in her Hoppers Crossing home on the night of February 18 last year.

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Baea (left) who murdered Somawansa (right). 

Baea and Mrs Somawansa’s son, Wishhasad, were at primary school together and rekindled their friendship early last year when they crossed paths in the street.

About a week after that chance meeting, Baea arrived unannounced at the Somawansa home and stayed for dinner, only to return later that night and murder Mrs Somawansa, whose son had been paged by his SES unit and whose husband was in Brisbane on work.

During the attack, Priyantha Hewage telephoned home and realised his wife of 22 years was in trouble when she answered the call. Mr Hewage heard his wife say “You go out, you go out, you go out” and then three times called out “Dos”, the name she called her husband.

Baea lived in Australia with his family as a young child but endured a troubled life when his family returned to Papua New Guinea. Justice James Elliott said Baea found it a shock to see that his former classmate was brought up in a loving, supportive household.

“You found the experience of witnessing two loving parents supporting their son in his life and studies quite confronting,” Justice Elliott told Baea in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

“You were jealous of Wish’s life.”

Justice Elliott said he could not determine the exact reason Baea murdered Mrs Somawansa with a kitchen knife he always kept on him, but found it a brutal and unprovoked attack.

“It was a vicious, gruesome and cowardly attack. You stabbed this defenceless woman in her own home violently and repeatedly … you only stopped stabbing her once she fell to floor, which is where you left her.”

Outside court, Mr Somawansa, with his father standing next to him, said no sentence could make up for their loss. He had no answers for why his mother was attacked.

“I just find it hard to understand how someone like that would do such a thing and how I could trust someone else if someone I thought was once a friend would do that to my own mother,” he said.

“She was a beautiful person, she was loving, she was caring and she always wanted to do good for everyone else. I just wasn’t privileged enough to spend more time with her and to care for her and to repay her for making me who I am today.”

The court heard Baea spent most of the following day in church contemplating what he did, before admitting his crime to police and then pleading guilty to murder.

He told police that after Mr Somawansa dropped him off at a shopping centre, he returned to the Somawansa house to look for his myki card. Mrs Somawansa asked him to leave as she was on the phone to a friend.

Justice Elliott said Mrs Somawansa had shown Baea only hospitality and courtesy, and that it was plain by her family’s victim impact statements that she would be “greatly missed”.

Despite that, the judge said he could not be satisfied Baea had “murderous intent” as he walked to the house, although he was clearly angry.

Baea was effectively abandoned by his parents as a teenager in Port Moresby, when his mother returned to Australia and remarried and his father began a relationship with another woman, which left Baea to raise his younger sister.

Baea was in Australia after visiting his mother when he met Mr Somawansa. He was due to return to Port Moresby three days after the murder.

FIVE NEW LAWYERS APPOINTED

FIVE prominent lawyers have been appointed as Judges to the National and Supreme Courts recently at the Waigani Court House in Port Moresby.

These five judges, in order of their seniority by the dates of their appointments are Justice Leka Nama Nablu, Justice Robert Lee Lindsay, Justice William Neil, Justice Terence Harold Foulds and Justice Jeffery Leonard Shepherd.

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Papua New Guinea National and Supreme Court Judges

Presiding over the ceremonial sitting in welcoming the five new judges was Deputy Chief Justice, Gibbs Salika as the Chief Justice Salamo Injia was attending funeral service for late Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio.

The Court room was not filled to capacity but the ceremonial sitting proceeded on a high note with families, friends, National Judiciary Services staff, Media and spouses of the newly appointed judges witnessing the occasion.

In welcoming the five new judges as members of the National Judiciary, Alfred Manase, one of the senior lawyers and a Council member of the Papua New Guinea Law Society, said the demands placed upon each of them by the home grown constitution would be at times very trying and difficult.

“As you would have now realised, the demands placed upon each of you by the home grown constitution, and its people will be at times very trying and difficult. Dispensing justice in accordance with law in PNG is no easy task but one that requires commitment,” he said.

Manase encouraged them to serve this nation with honesty.

“As you join the current judges of the Court, place your trust, confidence and have faith in the grace of our Lord God Almighty and serve the National and Supreme Courts in this nation with honesty and integrity,” he said.

Manase said Justices Nablu, Lindsay, Neill and Shepherd need not reminding of the constitutional mandate or duties as they have been performing and serving this country tirelessly over the years as lawyers but welcomed Justice Foulds.

Judge urged politicians to walk their talk

POLITICIANS ought to walk their talk and provide for their constituents says National and Supreme Court judge, Justice Panuel Mogish.

The Post-Courier reports that Justice Mogish made the remarks after observing the appalling state of court facilities during circuits to sub-registries in the Central Province.

“Court houses falling apart. No power, no water, no toilets, poor remand facilities for the Correctional Services, empty chambers and broken furniture. My challenge to provincial authorities to be true to what you say and deliver,” Justice Mogish said during the opening of the Legal Year in Central Province on Tuesday.

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Justice Panuel Mogish

Help in subsidising expenses was also suggested. According to Justice Mogish, last year K 300,000 was spent on a single circuit to the province, with most of the money going to transport and accommodation.

“Why not build accommodation for visiting court parties to cut down on expenses?”

He added that they were only nine pending cases at the province’s National Courts. This reflected local police inability to do their jobs because of lack of necessities such as transport.

“Plenty of criminal activities are being committed in remote areas. But police are handicapped,” he said.

He said allocating money to such infrastructures would greatly help visiting court parties from the nation’s capital in dispensing justice.

FORMER NIO BOSS JAILED

THE former boss of the National Intelligence Organisation (NIO), met his fate today, when the Waigani National Court sentenced him to three years in prison for misappropriating over K90,000.

The former Acting Director-General of NIO, Maika Bruno, is among a number of public servants who were convicted for the offence of misappropriation alone.

Mr Bruno was found guilty on two counts for misappropriating a K55,000 and a further K36,000 in 2013. The funds belonged to the NIO.

Vector illustration of a man lock up in prison

 

Although the court found that Mr Bruno was a career public servant of over 25 years with no prior convictions, his abuse of position of trust and lack of remorse for his actions landed him in hot water.

The court presided by Justice David Cannings initially issued a 8 year sentence but reduced it down to 3 years after considering Mr Bruno’s age and worsening health condition.

Bruno is 54 years of age and hails from Namatani in the New Ireland province.

Court rejects bid to dismiss fraud charges against former Education Sec

AN application to dismiss fraud charges against former education secretary Dr Michael Tapo was rejected by the Waigani Committal Court yesterday.
The National reported that Tapo, 61, from Soheneru village, Lorengau, Manus, allegedly misappropriated a total of K1,208,883.21 between June and December 2012.

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Former Education Secretary Michael Tapo

Magistrate Cosmas Bidar said the court rejected the application because the matter was “premature”.
“The only way to dismiss a case is to consider the evidence first,” Bidar said.
He said Tapo’s matter was premature because the court had not considered sufficiency of evidence as yet.
The application was filed by way of notice of motion on July 25 to dismiss Tapo’s charges of 25 counts of dishonest application, one count of official corruption and one count of abuse of office.
The amount of K1,208,883.21 was allegedly paid to the managing director of Yumi Yet Construction Ltd for the purpose of building, maintenance and renovation of classrooms and teachers houses in National Capital District (NCD) schools.
Police allege that to date no services or very poor services were rendered.
Tapo, who was appointed chairman of a working committee that was formed to assist NCD education services on contractor’s outstanding payments, allegedly paid K321, 800.85 on June 2, 2012 and K887, 082.36 on Dec 27, 2012 to Yumi Yet Construction Ltd.

Local village court magistrates not receiving regular salaries

SOME village court magistrates in the country who are not receiving regular salaries want the Department of Provincial and Local Level Government to address their concern.
The issue was raised by village court magistrates in Western Highlands yesterday.
They told The National that the Government, through the department, selected 11 village court officials from 5,000 officials and 1,600 village courts in the country to be on regular salary. They said only seven out of the 11 were on payroll but not the other four.

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Local WHP village court magistrates raising their concerns

SOME village court magistrates in the country who are not receiving regular salaries want the Department of Provincial and Local Level Government to address their concern.
The issue was raised by village court magistrates in Western Highlands yesterday.
They said the Government, through the department, selected 11 village court officials from 5,000 officials and 1,600 village courts in the country to be on regular salary. They said only seven out of the 11 were on payroll but not the other four.
Team leader and Biapuri village court magistrate Raphael Owa, from Mt Hagen, said that he and three others, including a female magistrate, were not receiving their regular salary.
He said they had raised concerns for a  longtime but nothing seemed to be done.
Provincial and Local Level Government Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sir Leo Dion has said that all village court magistrates and councillors would be on a regular Government payroll.
Sir Leo said the hard-working people would be properly compensated.
The Government and Sir Leo has announced a total of K38.4 million for the remuneration for the  officials.
Owa said they wanted the Government to consider immediate action because with the general election next year,  they feared nothing would be done. Team leader and Biapuri village court magistrate Raphael Owa, from Mt Hagen, said that he and three others, including a female magistrate, were not receiving their regular salary.
He said they had raised concerns for a  longtime but nothing seemed to be done.
Provincial and Local Level Government Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sir Leo Dion has said that all village court magistrates and councillors would be on a regular Government payroll.
Sir Leo said the hard-working people would be properly compensated.
The Government and Sir Leo has announced a total of K38.4 million for the remuneration for the  officials.
Owa said they wanted the Government to consider immediate action because with the general election next year,  they feared nothing would be done.SOME village court magistrates in the country who are not receiving regular salaries want the Department of Provincial and Local Level Government to address their concern.
The issue was raised by village court magistrates in Western Highlands yesterday.
They said the Government, through the department, selected 11 village court officials from 5,000 officials and 1,600 village courts in the country to be on regular salary. They said only seven out of the 11 were on payroll but not the other four.
Team leader and Biapuri village court magistrate Raphael Owa, from Mt Hagen, said that he and three others, including a female magistrate, were not receiving their regular salary.
He said they had raised concerns for a  longtime but nothing seemed to be done.
Provincial and Local Level Government Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sir Leo Dion has said that all village court magistrates and councillors would be on a regular Government payroll.
Sir Leo said the hard-working people would be properly compensated.
The Government and Sir Leo has announced a total of K38.4 million for the remuneration for the  officials.
Owa said they wanted the Government to consider immediate action because with the general election next year,  they feared nothing would be done.

Chinese man arrested for assaulting a PNG local for stealing from his shop

A CHINESE man was arrested for beating up a Papua New Guinean who stole from his shop at Gordon market in Moresby Northeast.

Hens Wu of mainland China was alleged to have injured a Michael Peter Mel for stealing from the Eliseo Wholesale at Gordon on September 26.

He was arrested, charged with grievous bodily harm and released on K500 bail.

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Mr Wu made his first court appearance yesterday before the Committal Court at Waigani where he was arraigned and surrendered his passport as a bail condition.

The court heard that Mr Wu denied assaulting Mr Mell.

Instead, he submitted that Mr Mell had been stealing from the shop on four different occasions.

On that day when he tried to steal, the public had apprehended and beat him. In the middle of the chaos, Mr Mel dumped a cup of hot Chinese tea on him, burning his skin.

Magistrate Cosmas Bidar told Mr Wu that since it was his first court appearance, the police had three months to investigate and substantiate the allegations against him.

Mr Wu will make his next court appearance in November 17.