Judge explains 9-month sentence

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday February 3rd, 2014


A NATIONAL Court judge told a parliamentarian on Friday he was jailing him on contempt charges for only nine months because a longer sentence would mean him losing his seat.

Justice David Cannings told Usino-Bundi MP Anton Yagama he should be serving 18 months with his supporters who were sentenced on Friday. But he had to consider his position as a MP because he would lose his seat if his jail term exceeded nine months.

Cannings said it would cause a lot of inconvenience and loss of empowerment for the people of Usino-Bundi.

The court house premises and the nearby Yabob Road in Madang became an impromptu haus krai for the people after Yagama and his political rival Peter Yama were sentenced.

Yama was jailed for six months for threatening a police officer.

Yama and Yagama are cousins from the Mendi clan in Sinopas, Bundi LLG. They live on the same street in Madang four houses away from each other.

Six of Yagama’s supporters, including his executive officer Augustine Koroma and activist Steven Andambo, were jailed for 18 months. 

They were found guilty of contempt after they breached a court order issued at the Waigani National Court on July 29 restraining them from causing trouble and interfering with the court process while proceedings on the 2013 Usino-Bundi seat recount was in progress.

Cannings issued that order when Yagama’s supporters threatened Yama’s family and destroyed his property on July 26 last year.

Yama, who contested the Usino-Bundi seat with Yagama, challenged Yagama’s victory in a court of disputed returns. He succeeded and the court ordered a recount.

A recount was done and a day before the court declared Yagama as the successful candidate, his supporter painted their faces with black ashes and mud, armed themselves and marched to the courthouse to demonstrate their frustration over the lengthy court proceeding.

They stoned Yama’s two escort vehicles when they drove pass them after court adjourned at 11.30am. 

Yama turned on a policeman and threatened to shoot him for their failure to disarm Yagama’s supporters.

Cannings found them all guilty on Dec 10 last year.