Potape’s fraud retrial set

The National, Wednesday July 6th, 2016

A retrial for Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape charged with conspiracy to defraud and misappropriation of public funds is set for Friday at the Waigani National Court.
The retrial was listed to start yesterday before Justice George Manuhu.
Potape and his lawyer Justine Haiara appeared in court on Monday where they asked for an adjournment because Potape was to attend a provincial assembly meeting in Hela yesterday.
Manuhu granted the adjournment to allow Potape the opportunity to attend the provincial assembly meeting to elect an acting governor for Hela until the general election next year.
Potape was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of misappropriation of K330,000 belonging to the State.
The three charges arose from Potape’s alleged actions on Nov 20, 2010, when he chaired a joint district planning and budget priorities committee meeting where certain decisions were made to increase the daily allowances for the chairman and other members of the committee.
Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika found Potape guilty on Oct 16, 2014, and sentenced him to three years imprisonment on the first charge, three years on the second charge and five years on the third charge.
Two-and-a-half years from the five-year sentence were suspended.
Potape appealed his conviction and sentence in the Supreme Court last year because he argued that the trial judge (Sir Gibbs) made errors in law when arriving at his judgment.
The Supreme Court, presided by Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, Justice Ere Kariko and Justice Goodwin Poole granted Potape’s appeal on July 31 last year.
The Supreme Court quashed Potape’s conviction and set aside his sentence and ordered a retrial before another judge.