Potape disputes State evidence

The National, Friday July 15th, 2016

Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape has told the Waigani National Court that the evidence provided by the State in the misappropriation charge against him was insufficient.
Potape’s lawyer Justine Haiara said his client had no case to answer regarding the charges because the State did not prove the elements.
Potape was charged with two counts of misappropriation involving K330,000 belonging to his electorate and the State. Haiara said State witnesses Jack Bagita and Senior Constable Basi Sopata failed to prove any of the essential elements of offence for the two counts constituting the charge of misappropriation.
Bagita is the executive officer of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC). He gave evidence that allowances for members of Parliament were determined by the SRC alone.
Sopata was the police officer that assisted the auditors from the Department of Treasury during the initial audit which commenced on October 2010. He was also the corroborator during the record of interview with Sergeant Dickson Lakaio on Sept 25, 2011.
Potape’s lawyer argued that State witnesses Lambi Kinch and Chief Inspector Timothy Gitua gave evidence and statements that were opinions and assumptions drawn on illegally obtained bank documents.
The State prosecutions submitted that there was sufficient evidence for the case to proceed through the retrial.
The prosecutions submitted that the question of law was whether the accused be convicted on evidence before the court. The State lawyer told the court that this was the case where the evidence before the court was circumstantial and the State relied on it.
The State also submitted that there were five State witnesses and not four.
It was alleged that between Nov 1 and 30, 2010, at Mendi in Southern Highlands, Potape dishonestly applied to his own use K60,000. It was also alleged that in the same dates and place Potape applied to the use of others K270, 000.
Justice George Manuhu is expected to give a decision on July 21.