State to call 20 witnesses in Wartoto trial

The trial of Kokopo businessman Eremas Wartoto continued today at the Waigani National Court before Justice George Manuhu.

Lawyers from the Public Prosecutors office indicated 20 witnesses are expected for the trial which began yesterday into the misuse of the Kerevat National High school renovation funds.

The funds amount to K7.9 million that were paid to Sarakolok West Transport (SWT), a company that Wartoto was the Managing Director of in 2009. 

The trial started with its first two witnesses called yesterday. Both witnesses were former teaching staff of the Kerevat National High school.

This morning saw six witnesses called by the state for cross examination. The witnesses were mainly employees from the commercial banks. A witness from Ela Motors was also called before the trial adjourned for lunch.

The trial continued after lunch today.

Wartoto is facing two counts of misappropriation or dishonesty applying monies belonging to the state to his own use. He pleaded not guilty to both charges.

The first charge alleged between Jan 29, 2009 and Jan 30, 2010 in the National Capital District and in the East New Britain province, Wartoto dishonestly applied to his own use and the use of others K6,791,408.20.

The second charge alleges between Oct 14,2009 and Jan 30,2010, in Port Moresby, Kokopo and Rabaul, Wartoto dishonestly applied to his own use and to the use of others K1,197,483.80. 

Sally Pokiton