Awesa fails in bid to change trial venue

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday July 31st, 2013


WORKS Minister and Imbonggu MP Francis Awesa’s bid to change the venue of his election petition trial from Mt Hagen to Port Moresby on the grounds of threats and assault of his witnesses was refused yesterday after he failed to prove his claims in court.

This is the second application for a change of venue for the Imbonggu seat in Southern Highlands between Awesa and petitioner Pila Niningi after it was first changed from Mendi to Mt Hagen.

The first was by Niningi, who successfully changed the venue of the petition from his hometown Mendi to Mt Hagen, on the grounds of security of himself, his family and supporters.

This time, Awesa applied to change the venue of the trial to Port Moresby because his witnesses had been threatened in Mt Hagen.

Ruling on Awesa’s application, Justice Collin Makail said the MP’s lawyer had relied on four affidavits to establish that their evidence surfaced after the first application on the change of venue was decided.

Makail found there was no evidence to establish that the second respondent’s witnesses were threatened or assaulted by the petitioner’s supporters between the last application and this application.

“The evidence shows that the persons threatened and assaulted were supporters of second respondent and not witnesses,” Makail said. 

“Given this and there being no evidence of events of threats to witnesses, I am not satisfied that a fair trial is not possible if the trial is conducted at Mt Hagen National Court,” he said.