Case against Justice Sakora dismissed

The Waigani Committal Court today dismissed the information against Justice Sir Bernard Sakora on the charge of judicial corruption.

Magistrate John Kaumi handed down a ruling on an application that was moved by Sir Bernard’s lawyer Loani Henao, asking the court to dismiss the case.

The Committal Court found it does not have jurisdiction to prosecute or commence a criminal proceeding against Sir Bernard, who occupies a judicial office because certain laws were not complied with. 

Sir Bernard was charged with one count of Judicial Corruption, contrary to section 119(2)(a) of the Criminal Code act. Under section 119(5), prosecution of an offense against a person who holds a judicial office “cannot begun except by the direction of the Public Prosecutor.”

His lawyer, Loani Henao raised an application on whether the District Court in its Committal jurisdiction has jurisdiction to preside over a matter that concerns section 119(5) of the Criminal Code.

The court today ruled that section 119(5) of the Criminal Code was not complied with by police in particular, the informant from the Fraud and Anti- Corruption office before Sir Bernard was arrested and charged. 

“I certainly have not been shown such a ‘direction’ by the informant, so the defendant is therefore brought improperly and illegally before this court and so it follows that this court does not have jurisdiction to deal with this matter and such, this criminal proceeding cannot proceed any further.

“I find that the law was not complied with and I am therefore obliged to find that the defendant is not properly before the court,” Magistrate Kaumi said.  His bail money  of K1,000 be refunded.

On April 7, a warrant of arrest was obtained at the District Court under section 119(2) of the Criminal code.

That warrant was executed on Sir Bernard on April 11. On April 12, head of the Fraud office Matthew Damaru wrote a letter to the Public Prosecutor Pondros Kaluwin for a direction to commence proceeding at the Committal court against Sir Bernard. This is a requirement under section 119(5) of the Criminal code.

Sir Bernard appeared at the Committal Court on April 13. On April 22, the Public Prosecutor responded to Damaru’s letter.

However on May 4, Henao indicated he would take issues with the compliance of section 119(5), the issue of ‘direction from the Public Prosecutor. Henao submitted this direction should have been given before the arrest of Sir Bernard. He later filed a notice of motion seeking dismissal of the information laid against the judge.

On April 7, the informant Detective Inspector Joel Simatab of the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption office obtained an arrest warrant against Sir Bernard on the allegation he, “Being a judge of the National and Supreme Court corruptly received received from Paul Paraka through PKP Nominees Ltd, a sum of K100,000 for himself on account of him having in his judicial capacity to stay the operations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance,”.

A charge Sir Bernard denied. He said through his lawyer that what transpired from the payment of K100, 000 to Sir Bernard was a commercial transection after his honour put out a public notice for the sale of a vehicle, a Ford Everest Station wagon registration no. BCA-531.

(Picture: Sir Bernard today outside the Waigani Committal Court after his case was dismissed. )



Sally Pokiton