Pruaitch wins stay

National, Normal


THE Leadership Tribunal hearing the referral of Finance and Treasury Minister Patrick Pruaitch is not expected to go ahead today as scheduled.
Last Friday, Mr Pruaitch was granted a reprieve by the Supreme Court.
The top court stayed the decision of the National Court which dismissed an application by Mr Pruaitch for a judicial review of his referral to the Leadership Tribunal by the Ombudsman Commission.
Justice Ere Kariko dismissed the application on Feb 14.
Mr Pruaitch and his lawyers made an urgent ex parte application to the Supreme Court last Friday, and the stay was granted by Justice Mark Sevua, sitting alone as a Supreme Court judge.
The Ombudsman Commission was not a party to the application.
Commission lawyer Virgil Narokobi declined comment when approached yesterday.
The stay means the tribunal headed by Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika, which was expected to begin this morning, has been stopped.
While granting the stay last Friday, Justice Sevua said there were grounds for the matter to be heard fully in the Supreme Court first.
He set March 12 for hearing from all parties.
Mr Pruaitch was referred by the Ombudsman Commission to the Public Prosecutor in June last year for a number of allegations of misconduct in office.
The allegations against Mr Pruaitch include double-dipping into support vehicle allowance, double-dipping into operational cost allowances for support vehicles, improper receipts of public funds for fuel costs for private vehicle, double-dipping into entertainment allowance and misappropriation of 2003 District Support Grants.
Public Prosecutor Wala Tamate early this year asked Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia to appoint a Leadership Tribunal to hear the matter against Mr Pruaitch.
The Chief Justice appointed his deputy Justice Salika to head the tribunal, assisted by principal magistrate Peter Toliken and senior magistrate Nerrie Eliakim.
Mr Pruaitch would have been suspended from office starting today had the tribunal been allowed to sit.