National Court ends on-off inquiry against Gulf governor


THE Waigani National Court has permanently restrained the leadership tribunal seeking to look into allegations of misconduct in office by Gulf Governor Chris Haiveta because the process has taken too long.
Justice David Cannings, in the Waigani National Court, ruled that a request made by the public prosecutor to appoint a leadership tribunal in 2018 was a proscribed act under Section 41 of the Constitution and had denied Haiveta a fair hearing which was a breach of his rights under Section 37 (1),(3) and (11).
This follows a referral by the Ombudsman Commission over allegations of misconduct in office by Haiveta to the prosecution before a tribunal on Jan 31, 2006.
On Oct 6, 2006, a tribunal comprising Justice Timothy Hinchliffe (chairman) and senior magistrates Stephen Abisai and Mark Pupaka was appointed.
On Feb 20, 2007, Haiveta was suspended from duty over 28 allegations of misconduct in office (four categories) which were referred to the tribunal.
On May 23, 2007, due to the impending general elections in which Haiveta was a candidate, the proceedings were adjourned to Aug 6 (2007).However, the tribunal disbanded (Aug 6) after Haiveta lost his seat.
On May 18, 2018, the prosecution requested to then-chief justice Sir Salamo Injia to appoint another leadership tribunal to inquire into the 2007 allegations of misconduct in office by Haiveta.
“The subject matter of the allegations traversed the period from 1993 to 2002, meaning that a tribunal appointed in 2020 would be inquiring into alleged misconduct committed 18 to 27 years ago,” Justice Cannings said.
“In the 13-year period since the previous tribunal disbanded, it is reasonably expected that some evidence would have been lost or misplaced, and some of the plaintiff’s witnesses had died.
“It is almost three years since the plaintiff (Haiveta) in early Aug 2017, resumed leadership status,” Justice Cannings said.
“The court then ordered a permanent injunction into the appointment of another leadership tribunal to look into the (2007) allegations, and a stay on his (2007) suspension because continued suspension would also be a breach of his rights.”