Judge Sakora voluntarily steps aside as a judge, while denying allegations

Justice Sir Bernard Sakora this afternoon announced he is voluntarily stepping aside from office as a judge of the National and Supreme Court pending criminal allegations against him.

Sir Bernard will not hear or sit in any cases at the National and Supreme Court pending the determination of this matter or the allegations of judicial corruption.

Sir Bernard’s lawyer Loani Henao in a media conference made the announcement while sternly denying the allegations that deals with judicial corruption.

Henao says what transpired from the payment of K100,000 to Sir Bernard was a commercial transection between him and Paul Paraka lawyers after his honour put out a public notice for the sale of a vehicle, a Ford Everest Station wagon registration no. BCA-531.

He said Sir Bernard had signed off on Sept 18, 2009 the transfer of ownership of his vehicle at a cost of K100,000 to Kepson Pundu, the General Manager of Paul Paraka lawyers.

“It has never occurred to him that a genuine commercial transaction would land him in this situation,”Henao said.

“Yes, we received K100, 000. The allegation is that K100,000 was received on account of his honor having in his judicial capacity as a judge of the National and Supreme Court to stay the operations of the commission of enquiry into the department of finance- That part is strenuously denied.

“We are saying that yes we received the K100,000 for payments of sale of his honor’s vehicle to Paul Paraka lawyers. The commercial transection with that to the sale of a vehicle took place on Sept 18, 2009. This payment had nothing to do with any case or any cases,” Henao reiterated. 

Sir Bernard was arrested and charged on Monday this week for judicial corruption, a charge that requires a warrant of arrest from the District Court.

This warrant was issued by Magistrate Cosmas Bidar on April 7, a week ago.

The charge against Sir Bernard alleges that on Sept 22, 2009 in Port Moresby, being a judge of the National and Supreme Court, he corruptly received from Paul Paraka through PKP Nominees Ltd, a sum of K100, 000 on account of him having in his judicial capacity to stay the operations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance.

“We deny any judicial corruption on our part and yes we know that this K100,000 relates to a genuine commercial transection. 

 Henao said the allegations do not relate to an application Sir Bernard presided over in Alotau involving the Paul Paraka law firm, six months after the commercial transection had taken place.

He went on to say the granting of an application seeking interim injunction (proceeding OS No.89/2010) that was filed by Zachary Gelu and Paul Paraka against the Commission of Inquiry into the Department of Finance, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and others that was granted by Sir Bernard in Alotau on Mar 6, 2010 while he was in circuit on Alotau.

Sally Pokiton