Leadership tribunal set up for Pruaitch

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A LEADERSHIP Tribunal has been appointed to hear allegations of misconduct against Finance and Treasury Minister Patrick Pruaitch.
Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia announced yesterday that the panel will be headed by Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika.
Acting Public Prosecutor Jim Wala Tamate had asked Sir Salamo on Dec 10 to set up the tribunal under sections 27 (2) and 7 (e) of the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership.
The two other members of the three-person tribunal are principal magistrate Peter Toliken and senior magistrate, Ms Nerrie Eliakim.
No date has been set for the start of the inquiry.
The Ombudsman Commission referred Mr Pruaitch to the Public Prosecutor last June for alleged misconduct in office after investigating a number of allegations against him.
The allegations include double-dipping into support vehicle allowance, double-dipping into operational cost allowances for support vehicle, improper receipts of public funds for fuel costs for private vehicle, double dipping into entertainment allowance and misappropriation of 2003 District Support Grants.
On July 22, 2009 the Commission informed Mr Pruaitch in accordance with Section 20 (2) of the Leadership Code, that he would be referred to the Public Prosecutor.
The Public Prosecutor has the discretion to bring or decline to bring proceedings under the Leadership Code for alleged misconduct in office in accordance with Section 177 (1) (b) of the Constitution.
Mr Pruaitch was with his lawyers last night and could not be reached for comments but in his initial response late last year, he said the allegations of misconduct had no substance.
He said he had properly responded to those allegations as required under the Organic Law on Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership and that any proceedings arising from the same allegations would be defended vigorously.
“I advise my strong and loyal supporters of Aitape-Lumi that they need not be overly concerned for I have absolutely committed no wrong, my conscience is clear, the referral is being brought for improper purposes, is flawed and I stand ready to defend those allegations at any time in accordance with due process of the law by providing the facts and evidence to disprove them should this matter be further proceeded with,” Mr Pruaitch had said.