Potape gives evidence in trial

Petitioner in the Hela Regional seat, Francis Potape, was the first witness called to give evidence at the start of the petition trial today which commenced at the Waigani National Court.

Potape is challenging Philip Undialu’s declaration of 24 July 2017 in Tari.

He petitioned the court to make findings into the final results of the election and determine who scored the highest votes.

He alleges the Returning Officer did not publicly declare the winner with the votes collected before putting Undialu on the writ.

The issue of the petition is what transpired on 23 July 2017 after he was informed by his scrutineer Tape Pulupe and the Assistant Provincial Returning Officer, Anna Pame, in the afternoon to get ready for his declaration.

Potape put to court that he had scored 67,435 while Undialu scored 65,836 however, Undialu’s lawyer put to Potape while he was on the witness box that he scored 66,078 while Undialu polled 69,241 to be declared.

The scores are contained in form 66B, which is a document of the Electoral Commission.

Meanwhile, NBC’s Executive Director of News and Current Affairs appeared in court today in response to a summons that was obtained by Undialu’s lawyers on Tuesday.

Audio copies of a news item the 2017 General Election official broadcaster ran on July 23, 2017, were presented to court.

The trial continues at Waigani with more witnesses to be called.

(Francis Potape surrounded by his supporters at the courthouse today)

Sally Pokiton