Ruling on Somare review bid set for May 30

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A RULING on the judicial review sought by Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare against the Ombudsman Commission will be made on May 30.
Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika announced the date at the Waigani National Court yesterday after lawyers for both parties made their final submissions.
Somare had filed for a review of an Ombudsman Commission to have him referred to the office of the public prosecutor for official misconduct.
He claimed there was bias involved in that decision.
The referral in 2006 recommended Somare to stand trial in the leadership tribunal.
Somare’s lawyer, Ian Molloy, had maintained his client had been subjected to bias by the commission.
Apart from that, Molloy also argued that:
*The OC did not make a finding or determination as requested by Somare for a separate independent investigation in the allegation of misconduct; and
*The OC did not consider a letter of April 14, 2005, by the Office of Rural Development that cleared and confirmed Somare’s acquittals of the 2002 district support grants as complete.
The commission, however, claimed Somare was trying to have the ORD findings as the final and true result, while his referral was triggered by bias in which former ombudsman Peter Masi was blamed of orchestrating.
It said the OC’s function was not to carry on from where the ORD had left off and neither would it simply believed in ORD’s confirmation that there were no irregularities in the plaintiff’s conduct and capacity as a public office holder.
This was because OC’s interest in the issue had nothing to do with the administration of the ORD funds but it was an issue of breach of leadership code.  
It said the involvement of the commission in the investigations that led to the referral was not for the benefit of any individual attached with the OC but in the interest of the nation and to maintain the integrity of any public office, regardless of who the office bearer was.
The commission submitted that a leadership tribunal should be allowed by the court to proceed in order to prove whether Somare breached the leadership code.
But Molloy counter-attacked that submission, saying the leadership tribunal should be quashed as the referral to the public prosecutor was fabricated outside of the jurisdiction limits of the OC.
Ruling was reserved to May 30.