By JEFFREY ELAPA
FORMER governor of Madang James Yali, jailed for 12 years for rape, is to be released from jail.
The National Parole Board met last Tuesday and granted Yali parole, a member of the board said yesterday.
Mr Yali was convicted of rape in December 2005 while he was Member for Rai Coast and governor of Madang province.
He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment in January 2006.
He was accused of raping a 17-year-old girl, who is the younger sister of his wife.
Both Yali and his wife’s family have pleaded his innocence, even after his conviction.
The decision to grant Yali parole was based on reports and recommendations of the jail management at Beon, where he is held.
He is also being released on medical grounds, the parole board member said without elaborating.
He said Yali had served one third of his sentence, and he qualified for parole.
“We made the decision last Tuesday.
“The commission (Correctional Services) should sign the order for discharge this week,” he said. Acting Correctional Services Commissioner Henry Wavik could not be reached for comments.
Speculations are rife in Madang that Yali is being released in time to contest the by-election for the seat of Rai Coast.
The seat fell vacant after the death of Neuro Toko Sapia in October last year.
Yali was elected to the seat in 2002, and held it prior to his conviction.
He lodged an appeal against his conviction and sentence, and was allowed to contest the 2007 general elections while his appeal was pending.
He won the seat, but was disqualified after his appeal failed.
Mr Sapia was subsequently elected, but died after battling an illness.
Asked if Yali would be eligible to contest the by-election, the parole board member said Yali could not as he was still a prisoner.
“He will continue to serve his time, but outside, under supervision.
“If he wants to run for the election, he would have to apply for and be pardoned by the Prime Minister and NEC.
“If he has the connections, I’m sure he will succeed,” he said.
But the news of his imminent release from prison is expected to rile activists who campaigned against sexual violence, and violence against women and children.
Some of these activists were busy briefing former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, who is visiting Port Moresby in her role as United Nations Development Programme administrator and chair of the UN Development Group.
Among the issues being discussed with Ms Clark are sexual violence, and violence against women and children.
She visited the Family Sexual Violence Unit at Boroko police station, and held a two-hour meeting with NCD metropolitan commander Chief Supt Fred Yakasa on the issue.