More trial dates for petitions set

Trial dates for two more election petitions have been set by the Court of Disputed Returns on Friday.

They include the two petitions that were filed disputing the election in the Hela regional seat and the Samarai-Murua seat.

The Waigani National Court has joined the two petitions that were filed challenging Philip Undialu’s win as Hela Governor.

Justice Collin Makail issued orders to consolidate the petitions filed by Francis Potape and Dr. Hemia Hewali.

He was of the view they had similar allegations and urged parties to work towards the trial dates.

Potape is alleging the final figures that led to Undialu’s declaration on July 23 were changed by a different set of counting officials under the supervision of Returning Officer John Tipa.

However, Undialu’s lawyer says the change of shift was between those who worked in the morning who did sorting and distribution.  

Trial for the joint petitions will be heard over a period of three weeks commencing January 8, 2018, at the Waigani National Court buildings.

For the Samarai-Murua petition, the trial will take place over five days at the Alotau National Court.

The petition filed by Gordon Wesley challenging Henry Isi Leonard’s election goes for trial commencing March 5.

Sally Pokiton