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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Moti's dirty linen in PNG still causes ire after the PNGDF Moti report could not be located

The Julian Moti Inquiry report that cost the Papua New Guinea State K1.6 million to put together is “somewhere in the Prime Minister’s (Sir Michael Somare) residence and cannot be located”, the National Court heard yesterday.

Presiding judge Justice Bernard Sakora ordered lawyers representing Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, former chief secretary Joshua Kalinoe, PNG Defence Force chief of staff Captain Tom Ur and two others on Tuesday to furnish a copy of the report in court.

But the lawyers turned up empty handed yesterday, triggering the ire of the judge.

When Sir Michael’s lawyer Kerenga Kua told him the report had yet to be located, Justice Sakora said: “That’s not good enough, I have been asking for it since yesterday (Tuesday) and now I’m told the search is on”.

The less-than-impressed judge then used his summary powers and invited Copland Raurela, the counsel representing the PNG Defence Force Inquiry Board, to make a submission to dismiss the whole proceedings. Mr Raurela then made an application to dismiss the whole proceedings.

Earlier, Mr Kua told the court the report was in a box somewhere in Sir Michael’s residence and could not be found, as the Prime Minister was relocating from his private home to his official residence, Mirigini House.

The absence of the report at the hearing will have great bearing on the plaintiffs’ application to nullify the entire proceedings of the PNGDF inquiry into Julian Moti’s clandestine escape in October last year.

Justice Sakora, since the start of the court proceedings, maintained the court’s decision will depend on the availability of the report.

“My final decision will hinge on the availability of the report” he said. Mr Raurela argued yesterday the plaintiffs should have gone to court to stop the army inquiry when its hearings got under way between November 2006 and February this year.
He described their application as “ludicrous” and compared their failure to table a copy of the report as akin to “coming into court with muddy feet and expecting it to rule in their favor”.

Despite the setback, Mr Kua submitted the relief his client sought had “nothing to do with the report” and he was only seeking a ruling on the composition of the board of inquiry. He urged Justice Sakora to rely on the gazettal notice that proclaimed the appointments of inquiry chairman Justice Gibbs Salika and various others, which his client is contesting.

Justice Sakora reserved his decision on the applications by Mr Raurela, Mr Kua and lawyers representing the other parties and adjourned to next Tuesday.

Source: Post Courier

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