3 corruption charges dropped


NATIONAL Youth Development Authority director-general Joe Itaki had three corruption charges against him discharged by the Waigani Committal Court yesterday.
Magistrate Garry Unjo noted that the charges failed to go through the police vetting process before being brought to court.
Itaki, 46, from Waeres village, Wapenamanda, Enga, was charged with misappropriation, conspiracy to defraud and official corruption in relation to provincial investment programme (PIP) project funds totalling K9.7 million.
Magistrate Unjo struck out all three charges after an application made by Itaki to have the police information struck out for being defective as it was not properly vetted before being presented in court.
The court heard that Itaki had written to the office of the Police Commissioner to determine the merit of the complainant but was arrested before getting a response.
“The defendant (Itaki) was waiting for a response from the office of the Police Commissioner when he got arrested and charged by police,” Magistrate Unjo said.
“The police administrative requirement of vetting of evidence is to determine whether there is merit on what is before the court to put the accused to stand trial.
“The police officers have not followed the vetting process.
“The letter from the assistant police commissioner, admits that the vetting process is necessary.
“The (vetting) committee is established to ensure that investigations and arrest powers of police are not abused when it comes to a person with standing in society.
“It is a regulatory measure to ensure credibility before the matter is subject to the court’s scrutiny.
“The matter is now before the court without going through the vetting process.
“It is an abuse of the court process.
“The police information is improperly before the court, so the defendant (Itaki) is discharged from the charges.”
Itaki told The National after the court ruling that he was ready to get back to work and catch up on time lost.
Itaki’s lawyer Gibson Bon said the process within the police department with regards to the vetting of evidence had not been followed and their application had stated this deficiency.
Bon said the reason a vetting process was required was to guard against malicious prosecution.