Somare suspended from duties as tribunal starts inquiry

National, Normal

The National – Tuesday, July 5, 2011

STATE Enterprises Minister and Angoram MP Arthur Somare has been suspended from office as a leadership tribunal convened yesterday in Port Moresby to inquire into charges of misconduct in office.
The suspension is for an indefinite period, coming on the heels of attempts last month by Somare’s lawyers to stop his prosecution but were dismissed.
Under the Leadership Code, once a leader is referred and a tribunal is appointed, he or she automatically remains suspended pending a final determination.
The Ombudsman Commission had referred Somare to the public prosecutor for allegedly failing to submit financial statements over several years and misapplied electoral funding.
When the tribunal convened, his lawyer Kerenga Kua had asked for a one-month adjournment to gather more evidence to support his case.
The tribunal, chaired by Salatiel Lenalia, will rule on the adjournment, proposed for Aug 16, when the hearing resumes on Thursday.
Somare was suspended from duties immediately, in accordance with section 27(2) of the Organic Law on Duties and Responsibilities of Leaders.
The suspension was also effective given that two required documents were tendered by the public prosecutor.
They are the statement of reasons by the Ombudsman Commission outlining what offences had been committed to refer a leader to the public prosecutor and a statement of charges from the public prosecutor, outlining the charges to be laid pursuant to the reasons and evidence received from the Ombudsman Commission.
Both documents were accompanied by a supporting document called an explanatory memorandum which indicated the charges and the necessary steps taken to investigate the matters involved.