Tato to stand trial in National Court

Eastern Highlands Provincial Administrator Solomon Tato will stand trial at the Goroka National Court for misappropriation allegations dating back to 2011.

Public Prosecutor Pondros Kaluwin elected his case to go forward to the National Court under section 526 of the Criminal Code despite the Goroka District Court dismissing his case for insufficient evidence in Nov 27 last year.

Under section 526 of the Criminal Code, the public prosecutor has the power to bring a charge against a defendant in criminal proceedings for further consideration in the National Court after the District Court dismisses it. Here a matter will proceed for trial through what is called an ex-officio indictment or charge upon consideration of the public prosecutor.

In a letter dated March 14, the public prosecutor attached two charges that Tato will answer to in the National Court.

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 count 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, or misappropriated monies, in the sum of K2 million (properties of the state).

On August 4 last year, Justice Ambeng Kandakasi issued interim orders, through a civil proceeding at the National Court, to have Tato step aside as provincial administrator pending allegations of criminal investigations.

These criminal allegations were dismissed by the Goroka District Court in November 27 on insufficient evidence.

Tato resumed office on Feb 15 this year after the Supreme Court ordered his reinstatement as the provincial administrator of EHP following a tussle between him and Samson Akunai in the civil proceeding filed.

He will appear for listing at the Goroka National Court before documentation work begins with the filing of pre-trial review statements. After that a trial date will be set by the court.

Caption: File picture of Tato in office. 

Sally Pokiton