By JACOB POK
LAWYERS for the Ombudsman Commission told the National Court yesterday all due processes were followed in the referral of Treasury and Finance Minister Patrick Pruaitch for alleged misconduct in office.
The commission is in court to defend the referral following a challenge mounted by Mr Pruaitch and his team of lawyers.
Mr Pruaitch is seeking an injunction to stay the direction of the commission to refer him to face a leadership tribunal over allegations of misconduct of office.
Last week, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia announced, following a decision of the Public Prosecutor to refer the minister, the appointment of a leadership tribunal to inquire into the allegation of misconduct against the Treasurer.
Mr Pruaitch decided to fight this and has hired law firms Young and Williams and Steeles Lawyers to represent him.
His legal team is saying Chief Ombudsman Chronox Manek had exceeded his jurisdiction when he referred him to the Office of the Public Prosecutor and later to the Chief Justice to convene a leadership tribunal over the allegations of misconduct.
Lawyer Greg Sheppard alleged that the referral by Mr Manek was not proper as his client was not given ample opportunity or the right to be heard.
He said there was certain breach of the Organic Law and breach of natural justice.
Mr Sheppard added that section 20, subsection 3 of the Constitution which refers to the duties and responsibilities of leadership was breached when the directions for the referral of Mr Pruaitch was instituted.
But lawyer assisting the Ombudsman Commission, Virgil Narokobi, asked that the entire proceedings be dismissed for abuse of process because the Ombudsman Commission had exercised its constitutional powers to refer leaders.
Mr Narokobi argued that the three different constitutional offices, the Ombudsman Commission, the Public Prosecutors and the Chief Justice had followed set procedures and exercise their powers in accordance with the Constitution.
He said the directions issued by the three offices was final, describing their authorities like “a water that flows out of the tap and cannot be sent back to the tap”.
Mr Narokobi said Mr Pruaitch was issued 11 allegations of misconduct but three of the charges were dropped when Mr Pruaitch gave his position and only eight allegations were upheld.
Mr Sheppard argued that there were also new allegations raised and Mr Pruaitch was not given the right to be heard. But Mr Narokobi rejected this.
Presiding judge Justice Ere Kairiko adjourned the matter to Friday for a ruling.
Those present with Pruaitch in the court house include Forest Minister Belden Namah, Minister for Communication Patrick Tammur and Police Commissioner Gari Baki.