By JULIA DAIA BORE
Solicitor-General Neville Devete has asked for leniency after being found guilty of contempt of court.
Mr Devete said he “deeply regretted” his actions which led to the contempt charge, fearing that a heavy sentence would affect his profession and his young family.
The National Court heard submissions this week before the sentence is decided by Justice Gibbs Salika.
Mr Devete told the court he carried the burden of previous solicitor-generals who had handled the case for which he had been held accountable for and subsequently charged.
Mr Devete’s counsel, acting deputy solicitor general Laias Kandi, submitted that his client had not acted on the previous court orders because he was convinced that claims submitted by the group of landowners were fraudulent.
Mr Kandi said the court had been misled by the claimants and that the full story had not been told.
The claimant Mathew Moiga, (representating his villagers) had been in an earlier claim which had received a payout of over K1.9 million.
He argued that because Mr Devete had known about this he had withheld from signing the certificate of
judgment for the payment as ordered by the court.
Mr Kandi submitted to sign a certificate of judgment for this claim would make it possible for a second payout of exactly the same amount.
This would be “morally” wrong; and considering that Mr Devete was duty-bound to protect public funds that belonged to the people.
But Camillus Narokobi for the plaintiff said the entire submission by the defence counsel was “irrelevant” as this was a submission on sentence.
“We submit there are no worse case than this and there is not likely to be another worse type than this,” Mr Narokobi said.
Justice Salika will make a ruling on March 8.