Solomon Tato to challenge indictment

Eastern Highlands Provincial Administrator Solomon Tato has filed an application challenging the ex-officio indictment that was served on him to stand trial in the Goroka National Court.

Tato was served an ex-officio indictment on July 22 in Port Moresby by the Public Prosecutor, Pondros Kaluwin, for misappropriation allegations. The allegations date back to 2011.

An ex-officio indictment is a court document that is signed and presented by the Public Prosecutor in special cases where the Committal Court magistrate refuses to commit a person to stand trial or dismisses a case on insufficient evidence. It can only be signed by the Public Prosecutor.

Tato said his lawyer George Lau filed an application challenging that ex-officio indictment.

“We will make that application in light of the latest Supreme Court decision on Ano Pala that decided on the question of his warrant of arrest. We have indicated to the public prosecutor that they have some defects.  We will rely on Pala’s case to thrown out the ex-officio indictment,” Tato said in Port Moresby.

He said he will remain as the Provincial Administrator for Eastern Highlands Province and defend that case in the National Court. He also remains on a K5, 000 bail.

The Public Prosecutor elected his case to go forward to the National Court under section 526 of the Criminal Code. This happened after the Goroka District Court dismissing his case for insufficient evidence on Nov 27 last year.

He was reinstated by the Supreme Court on Feb 15 as the Provincial Administrator after the Goroka District Court dismissed allegations of misconduct against him.

However, on March 14, his case was elected by the Public Prosecutor to go for trial through an ex-officio indictment.

From Ibusa-Moke village, Okapa, Eastern Highlands Province, Tato was charged for abusing the authority of his office and the dishonest application (or the misappropriation) of K2m between March 5, 2011, and March 21, 2012.

The first charge against Tato alleges that he abused the authority of his office between March 5, 2011, and March 21, 2012, in Goroka, by not calling for a public tender and awarded a contract to Lance Works Limited. He allegedly did this while being employed as the acting provincial administrator of the Eastern Highlands Provincial Administration and chairman of the Eastern Highlands Provincial Supply and Tenders Board. 

The second charge alleges that Tato, between that same period, dishonestly applied to the use of Lance Works Limited and others monies in the sum of K2 million – properties of the State.

Sally Pokiton