Somare out to clear name

National, Normal

The National – Thursday, December 16, 2010

STATE Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare’s next court proceeding, in relation to his referral to a leadership tribunal, has been listed for hearing on Feb 7.
Justice Catherine Davani set the date yesterday saying it could not be dealt with earlier because the high courts would adjourn for the Christmas-New Year holidays tomorrow.
Somare was granted a judicial review hearing on May 28 but had since not proceeded with the matter until yesterday.
He was referred by the Ombudsman Commission on Feb 28, 2006, to the public prosecutor for alleged misconduct in office in relation to failings to give annual statements on time and misapplication of district support grant and failure to acquit the expenditure.
On Tuesday, his father Sir Michael Somare stood aside as prime minister to allow a leadership tribunal to hear charges of misconduct in office in annual returns.
The two allegations against Somare related to his failure to acquit by furnishing his annual statements on time between July 1998 and July 2001.
On the misappropriation, the Ombudsman Commission claimed that Somare allegedly misappropriated K250,000 aimed for the development of his Angoram electorate in the East Sepik.
Somare was referred in August 2006 by then Public Prosecutor Chronox Manek, who is now chief ombudsman, to the chief justice who convened a leadership tribunal and appointed Sir Kubulan Los (retired) to chair the tribunal.
He sought and was granted a judicial review of his referral until 2007 when the Ombudsman made application, appealing the granting of leave for judicial review which was, however, dismissed.
The OC, again in October last year filed an application seeking to dismiss the entire proceedings for want of prosecution but failed to prosecute the proceedings for 14 months and then returned in May, arguing its dismissal saying it had gone out of time.
However, presiding judge Justice Nicholas Kirriwom, threw out their application saying they (OC) were at fault in not ensuring that the matter was preceded as they should have had not to turned around, and blame the prosecution for the delay.
Kirriwom ordered the matter to be fast-tracked and be progressed to the directional hearing, for hearing proper on the matter.
Yesterday’s hearing was the follow-on of that order.