Court to decide on Wenge’s case

Main Stories, National

The National, Tuesday 12th February, 2013

THE National Court in Lae will rule whether former Morobe governor Luther Wenge’s election petition against his successor Kelly Naru will proceed to a trial on Thursday.
Justice Nicholas Kirriwom adjourned the hearing yesterday before a packed court room when ending the day’s session after the high-profile case was transferred from Port Moresby.
Wenge appeared with lawyer Emmanuel Mambei from Solwai Lawyers but Naru was absent.
Naru is the first respondent and the Electoral Commission the second and they were represented by lawyers who asked not to be identified.
Despite the air condition not functioning well in the packed court, it took the whole day for both parties to make their submissions, with Wenge’s supporters filling up the left section of seats behind him.
Wenge alleged that Naru, through his agents, committed various acts of bribery contrary to the Organic Law on national and local level government elections.
The Electoral Commission was granted leave earlier to join the court last October, and consequently filed a notice of objection to the competency of the Wenge’s submission, alleging non-compliance of sections of the Organic Law referred to by Wenge’s lawyer.
The commission’s lawyer argued that failing to comply with the mandatory requirements, the petition should be dismissed and the petitioner made to pay the respondents’ costs.
However, Wenge’s lawyer countered that the facts they were pleading were sufficient and relevant, and therefore the case should proceed to a full trail.
Kirriwom said he would consider submissions from both parties and study them before making his ruling on Thursday “on whether the petition stands or falls”.