Wenge suing Basil for defamation

Lae News, Normal

The National, Wednesday, April 27, 2011

MOROBE Governor Luther Wenge is suing Bulolo MP Sam Basil and Reuben Miti for K1 million for defamation of character.
He said claims by Basil and Miti, Union of Watut River Communities (UoWRC) interim president Miti, and others had caused  “impeccable damage” to his name and title. 
Wenge took legal action after being labelled a “con man” last week and accused of his government paying private law firm Steele Lawyers, more than K800,000.
Basil claimed that payment was, “an arrangement under which, the law firm was looking after the interest of the governor”.  
The name calling and accusations arose from a forum at the Sir Ignatius Kilage stadium in Lae last week organised by the UoWRC and the affected communities from the headwaters of the Watut River in Bulolo district down to the Markham River in the Huon Gulf district.
Wenge did not attend because of other commitments.
He was accused of not living up to commitments he supposedly made to the affected communities from the Middle Watut area in Bulolo district three years ago and again to the Wampar people in Huon Gulf last year.
The affected communities had called on the governor and his government to help fight against dumping of chemicals and sediment by the developers of the Hidden Valley gold  mining, Morobe Mining Joint Ventures (MMJV), which was causing permanent damages to properties and environment along the river system.
Basil and the UoWRC did not want the provincial government to engage another lawyer and toxicologists to represent the affected communities as it would only be a duplication of the efforts of the Bulolo district administration.
Wenge said yesterday the provincial government had, as of yesterday, withdrawn its intention to engage toxicologists to study the chemical impact in the river system.
“This fight is my fight but we must prepare ourselves properly before we go into it,” he said.
He said the developers “are world class and billion dollar mining companies and they have their world class lawyers to defend them”.
“I am not a carpenter or a scientist, I am a lawyer and I know what it takes to fight against big people,” he said.