Ipatas election trial moved

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 11th June 2013


A JUDGE has ruled that the election petition trial for the Enga provincial seat be held at the Mt Hagen National Court.

Justice Colin Makail ruled last Friday at the Waigani National Court that the trial should begin on July 1 in Mt Hagen.

Makail handed down his ruling on the change of venue from Wabag to Mt Hagen following an application by petitioner Sandy Talita. 

He said he was satisfied that the trial venue be changed. 

“I am satisfied I have discretion under section 155(4) of the Constitution to change the venue of trial if it is established that the circumstances have changed since the last application,” Makail said. 

The petition was originally fixed for trial at Wabag National Court from April 29 to May 31. 

Talita wanted the venue moved from Wabag to Mt Hagen National Court for three reasons. One is the constant power cuts in Wabag town. Second is the threats on and assault to Talita’s witnesses and lawyers. Third is the shortage of accommodation in Wabag.

Governor Peter Ipatas’ lawyer said the Wabag National Court had previously ruled that the trial of the petition be conducted there.

“If the petitioner (Talita) is aggrieved by that decision, he should have appealed to the Supreme Court,” the lawyer said.  

But the judge said: “On the whole I am satisfied that the supporters of the first respondent (Ipatas) have orchestrated these incidents to suppress the petitioner’s right to challenge the results of the election for Enga provincial electorate.”

“Ultimately, it is a threat to the administration of justice and a fair trial is not possible.”