By DEMAS TIEN
EASTERN Highlands Governor Julie Sosohas been convicted of contempt for breaching a Supreme Court order by signing a letter instructing provincial administrator Solomon Tato to step down from office.
The order was issued by Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia on Feb 15, 2016, restoring Tato as the provincial administrator.
Soso, by signing the delivery of the letter instructing Tato to step down, was found to be in breach of the court order.
The other parties, which consisted of former acting provincial administrators Samson Akunai and Alwin Inammoi and Personnel Management Department secretary John Kali, were acquitted of the contempt charge.
The court found that their involvement was not in breach of the court order.
The unanimous decision was handed yesterday by a panel of three Supreme Court judges composed of Justice David Cannings, Justice Terence Higgins and Justice Lawrence Kangwia.
“The very terms of the letter of Feb 15, 2016, evidenced the fact that Ms Soso Akeke was well aware that the appellant (Tato) had been restored to office by order of the Supreme Court,” the judges said in their 23-page judgment. The court found that the terms of the letter were coercive and not advisory.
Tato stepped aside from office in Aug 12 last year when he was charged with official corruption and misappropriation of public funds.
Akunai was appointed as acting administrator.
Tato’s charges were dismissed on Nov 27 last year.
He sought to resume office but could not because Akunai had obtained an interim order restraining him. Tato appealed to the Supreme Court to review the decision of the National Court, which restrained him from resuming office.
The appeal came before Sir Salamo on Feb 15, who stayed all prior orders pending the determination of the appeal.
Sir Salamo ordered that Tato be restored to office and the appointment of Akunai in an acting capacity be ceased.
The contempt proceeding arose from Tato’s appeal.
By DEMAS TIEN