Potape’s misappropriation re-trial to commence

A retrial of the misappropriation case against Komo-Margarima MP, Francis Potape, will commence today Friday, July 8,2016 at the Waigani National Court.

The trial will commence today and run through to July 12, next week Tuesday before Justice George Manuhu.

The matter was supposed to commence on Monday this week but was deferred because Potape had a Provincial Assembly meet in Hela on Tuesday.

The re-trial was ordered after the Supreme Court on July 31 last year quashed Potape's conviction and sentence after a successful appeal.

Potape was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on January 19, 2015, for conspiring to defraud the State and dishonestly applying to himself and others, K330, 000. These were monies belonging to the Joint District Planning and Budget Priorities Committee (JDP&BPC).

He allegedly received K60, 000 of that amount. The charges arose from a meeting of the JDP&BPC meeting in his electorate in November, 2010. Here it is alleged Potape chaired the meeting and resolved to pay themselves so-called outstanding sitting allowances covering transport, security and food over a two-year period.

State however, alleges no receipts were produced to show proof of expenses claimed by Potape and his committee.

He served seven months in prison while awaiting his appeal before the Supreme Court against his conviction and sentencing. On July 31, 2015, a three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Chief Justices Salamo Injia, Justices Goodwin Poole and Ere Kariko, quashed his conviction and sentence after finding errors in the case by trial judge, Sir Gibbs. He has since been released from prison and is out on an extended bail.

(File picture)

Sally Pokiton