Former minister to present evidence today

National, Normal

The National, Thursday October 17th, 2013

 FORMER National Planning Minister and Pomio MP Paul Tiensten is expected to give evidence today at the National Court in Kokopo, East New Britain, in defence against corruption charges.

His witnesses are expected to give evidence today after State witnesses completed theirs yesterday.

The State initially said it had 16 witnesses but only five were called in the past two days.

Tiensten has pleaded not guilty.

The charges relate to a rehabilitation programme at a plantation in Pomio, covering 1000ha.

The Karlai Plantation, in East Pomio, is owned by the Rabaul Archdiocese and was leased to the Mesu Investment Ltd in 2004.

The court heard that Mesu Investment had engaged a private consultant, John Diugu and Associates, in 2008 to conduct a feasibility study and documentation of the planation to source funds under the National Agriculture Development Programme to rehabilitate and convert the plantation to an estate.

That was to make it possible for people to share blocks of land and to use them in a sustainable way.

The court was told that after the feasibility studies and documentation, a submission was made to the National Planning through Tiensten and the National Agriculture Development Programme.

State witnesses told the court that some months later, the company received an acknowledgment letter from the stakeholders regarding the submission but denied that payments of funds were made to the company.

Tiensten pleaded not guilty to official corruption, obtaining goods by false pretence and misappropriation in relation to K3.4 million initially allocated for the plantation.