State declines search warrants

The National, Wednesday July 13th, 2016

The State declined to present search warrants to police to obtain bank statements and pay slips for Komo-Margarima MP Francis Potape during their investigation into allegations of misappropriation levelled against him.
State lawyer from the Public Prosecutor’s Office asked the court for an adjournment to obtain the search warrants but Justice George Manuhu said it would be unfair to Potape.
Justice Manuhu said the prosecution should be ready with all the evidence.
He said it would be unfair for the court to stop the case and give time to the prosecution to look for evidence.
He said the onus was on the prosecution (State) to provide the search warrants to the court because the search warrants were part of the investigation process.
Justice Manuhu made the comments in the Waigani National Court yesterday during a retrial of Potape on the same charges.
National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate deputy director Chief Inspector Timothy Gitua testified yesterday that there were four search warrants issued during police investigations.
Gitua was the arresting officer who interviewed Potape and charged him.
Gitua said two search warrants were issued to Bank South Pacific to obtain the account statement of Potape, a search warrant was issued to an officer in charge of the salaries of Parliamentary members to obtain Potape’s pay slip and another search warrant was issued to search the residence of Potape at Sabama in the National Capital District.
The only search warrant presented to the court was the one executed at Potape’s residence.
Potape’s lawyer Justine Haiara opposed the tendering of that search warrant to the court as evidence.
The court was informed by a witness that the same warrant was used to obtain Potape’s bank account statements at BSP.
Haiara said the search warrant was issued to search the residence and not Potape’s bank account.
The search warrants used to obtain Potape’s account statements and the pay slips were not presented to the court.