Wangillen asks court to quash conviction

The former acting Treasurer of Ijivitari District in Northern Province, Otto Wangillen, has asked the court to quash his conviction which saw him sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

His lawyer made submissions in court this afternoon on an appeal he filed against the decision of the Waigani National Court.

Wangillen was found guilty on Feb 19, 2015, by the National Court for conspiring with another person and misappropriating K400,000, monies belonging to the Ijivitari District.

He was sentenced on June 11, 2015, to five years in jail.

The appeal against conviction was on three main grounds. A three-man Supreme Court heard submissions today and reserved its ruling to this Friday.

His lawyer submitted before the court that no sufficient time was accorded to him to defend his case when an additional charge of misappropriation was introduced by prosecution. This was after the presentation of the indictment, or charge, at the commencement of the trial on Sept 3, 2014.

He was committed to the National Court for trial on the charge of conspiracy and the charge of misappropriation was added at the presentation of the indictment.

The court was also told that Wangillen was unable to engage the service of another counsel to assist him in his case after his lawyer ceased to act for him, which left him no option but to ask the lawyer representing his co-accused in the trial to defend him.

The third ground of Wangillen’s appeal is that the trial judge used indirect or circumstantial evidence to convict him.

State submitted that an adjournment of one-and-a-half day was reasonable time given by the court after his charges were read at the start of the trial, giving him enough time to prepare his defense.

State also added that it can still prove a case on circumstantial evidence.

On Feb 19, 2015, the National Court found that Wangillen, whilst the former district treasurer, facilitated for the purported tender and payment of K400,000 to a David Consultants and Associates, the company that belongs to a David Kumalau Pondros.

The money was paid for the purpose of conducting feasibility studies for the construction of jetties along the cost of Ijivitari that MV Karimina, a vessel purchased by former Ijivitari MP, the late Cecil King Doruba, would service.

Sally Pokiton