The National, Wednesday 24th April 2013
By ADRIAN MATHIAS
A JUDGE has ruled that an election petition filed against Wabag MP Robert Ganim be heard in Port Moresby instead of Wabag town.
Justice Colin Makail made the ruling following an application by petitioner and former MP Sam Abal to hear the case outside Wabag because of threats on his witnesses by Ganim’s supporters.
Makail allowed the petition to be heard in the National Court in Port Moresby.
Abal claimed that six of his witnesses were threatened by Ganim’s supporters.
Makail said: “I accept that the witnesses for each party are based in Wabag and if the trial is to be held at Waigani National Court, it would be costly for the parties to transport them down and also to accommodate them in Port Moresby.
“But the security of witnesses is equally important. In this case, I am satisfied that witnesses have been assaulted, threatened, intimidated and harassed such that a fair trial is not possible if the petition is fixed for trial at Wabag National Court.
“I fix the trial at Waigani National Court.”
Abal is arguing in his petition about improper polling at Teremanda village, the returning officer’s decision to count five ballot boxes from two polling places despite objections based on illegal practices, and Ganim’s failure to resign from his position as a public servant before contesting the election.
Makail also changed the venues for election petition trials because of security reasons in the Gumine open seat in Chimbu between Nick Kopia Kuman and Lucas Dawa Dekena and in the Imbonggu open seat in Southern Highlands between Pila Niningi and Francis Awesa.