Somare case takes a twist

National, Normal

The National, Friday, May 13, 2011

THE judicial review hearing of Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare has crossed the line into matters concerning the leadership tribunal, a state lawyer said in court yesterday.
The Ombudsman Commission’s lawyer Howard Maliso said the matter in court was to deal with allegations of bias against Somare, purportedly made by the former Ombudsman Peter Masi.
He said that was the ground used by Somare to initiate the judicial review hearing.
He said it was obvious Somare wanted to use that allegation as a blanket to cover his referral to the public prosecutor, a matter that would require a Leadership Tribunal hearing.
During cross examination of witnesses, Somare’s lawyer, Ian Molloy, asked questions on matters other than the bias allegations.
Maliso objected to such questions, saying they had no relevance to the allegation of bias.
Maliso reiterated the manner in which Somare made arguments were not in line to what had brought the matter to court for the judicial review hearing.
In several instances, former Ombudsman and witness Masi, declined to answer questions from Molloy.
Masi said he had appeared in court expecting to be cross-examined over the alleged bias he had been blamed of orchestrating against Somare.
He said questions on his involvement in having Somare referred to the Public Prosecutor were not part of the judicial review.
Molloy repeatedly tried to establish a link between the referral of his client to the public prosecutor with the bias allegation.
Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika said matters that required referral to the Leadership Tribunal would be decided so by the court.
He said that lawyers did not have powers to decide what the next course of action would be in this matter.