THE two top officials in the judiciary, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia and Registrar Ian Augerea, have been sued for contempt of court by a sacked court official in a case concerning the estate of former judge Timothy Hinchliffe.
The contempt proceedings were filed this week by Timothy Sarri Junior, who was the judge’s associate to late Justice Hinchliffe.
Mr Sarri Junior wants the Chief Justice and Mr Augerea punished for allegedly violating a court order which directed that a sum of K213,069.90 be paid to him from the estate of Justice Hinchliffe.
Mr Sarri Junior has filed separate proceedings against Sir Salamo and Mr Augerea.
He says he has lived with Justice Hinchliffe for 20 years, between 1987 and 2009, and became his “adopted son”.
He became the associate to Justice Hinchliffe in 2000 and served until this year when the judge died after a long illness.
He said they lived in Port Moresby and moved to Lae in 1992. In 1999, they moved from Lae to Mt Hagen, where Justice Hinchliffe was resident judge until his death on March 20.
After his death, Mr Sarri Junior claimed that he became the executor of the estate of Justice Hinchliffe, and therefore had exclusive rights to the estate. On May 11, following a court hearing, Justice Mark Sevua confirmed Mr Sarri Junior as having exclusive rights to the estate of the late judge.
Justice Hinchliffe’s final entitlement was processed by the National Judicial Staff Services and a cheque for K213,069.90 was raised in favour of the law firm handling the estate.
But before the cheque could be processed and paid to him, Mr Augerea intervened and stopped the payment, allegedly on orders from the Chief Justice.
Mr Augerea said they wanted to check with Justice Hinchliffe’s family in Australia whether they were aware of the cheque payment.
Mr Sarri Junior said the action by the Chief Justice and Mr Augerea violated the law and interfered with the Probate Orders of May 11 issued by Justice Sevua.
He said the Chief Justice and Mr Augerea should have applied to have the court order set aside, or to stay the order.
He said what they did was in contempt of court and he wanted them both punished.
Attempts by The National to get comments from the office of the Chief Justice and Mr Augerea last night were unsuccessful.
Mr Sarri Junior is of mixed Gulf and Central parentage, and is married. He was suspended and sacked as a judge’s associate on June 23 this year.