Court to hear Wartoto’s appeal before trial

National, Normal

The National, Friday November 8th, 2013

 THE Supreme Court has ruled that the trial next week of businessman Eremas Wartoto on fraud-related charges be stayed pending the hearing of his appeal application.

The Supreme Court will first hear the appeal from Wartoto against a decision by the National Court handed down in August. That is expected to be held next month. 

Justice Derek Hartshorn yesterday handed down the decision of the three-man bench consisting of himself, Justice Colin Makail and Justice Joseph Yagi. 

Hartshorn said it was necessary to stay the criminal trial proceedings for the Supreme Court to first hear the appeal application by Wartoto. 

Wartoto, 48, from Rabarua village, Gazelle, in East New Britain, owns an airline company. 

He has been accused of using K10 million given by the Government to airline companies as freight subsidy, to buy his aircraft.

Wartoto has denied the charge.  

He had earlier asked the National Court to permanently stay his trial because of an abuse of process. 

In its ruling, the National Court in August dismissed the stay application by Wartoto on the basis that it was not a very strong or exceptional case.

Wartoto is arguing that the case against him should have been brought as a civil proceeding and not a criminal proceeding. 

Hartshorn said he was satisfied that Wartoto had a case for the appeal in the Supreme Court. 

Hartshorn said Wartoto would have been prejudiced if the trial went ahead before the appeal was heard in the Supreme Court.