Pruaitch appears before Tribunal

Aitape-Lumi MP and National Alliance Leader, Patrick Pruaitch, and his lawyers appeared before the Leadership Tribunal following the appointment of tribunal members by Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia on 21 September.

It was a show of solidarity, as the National Alliance Leader, Pruaitch was accompanied by the father of the nation, Sir Michael Somare, yesterday (September 5) in court.

A tribunal, appointed in February 2010 over allegations of misconduct in office, resumed yesterday morning where preliminary issues were raised before members of the tribunal by Pruaitch’s lawyer, Greg Sheppard.

Issues relating to the jurisdiction of the tribunal were raised as well as certain documents that will be used during the hearing.

Members of the tribunal adjourned the hearing to next Tuesday to allow time for those documents to be served on the leader’s lawyers and to prepare their response.

Pruaitch was referred by the Ombudsman Commission in 2008 to the tribunal over allegations of misconduct in office following investigations.

The leader is facing seven allegations of misconduct in office relating to double-dipping of support vehicle allowance, entertainment allowance, misappropriation of 2003 District Support Grant and his annual returns to the Ombudsman Commission. 

The tribunal was stayed pending various National and Supreme Court proceedings commenced by the leader in 2010, which came to a conclusion in June 2018, clearing way for the re-constituted tribunal to commence its inquiry.

However it was also put before members of the tribunal yesterday that the leader had filed an appeal before the Supreme Court on July 29, on his right to be heard under section 59 of the Constitution.

That appeal is still in its initial stage and will return to court on Thursday for settlement of index before a hearing date can be set.

Senior Magistrates Regina Sagu and Benjamin Tanewan are assisting the Chairman and Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika in this Leadership Tribunal inquiry.

Sally Pokiton