Refugee allowed bail by National Court

Iranian refugee Loghman Sawari will spend this Easter weekend outside the Waigani Police station holding cells after the Waigani National Court granted bail to him.

Justice Panuel Mogish allowed bail on the same conditions and the amount of K1,000 which was granted on February 15, this year at the Boroko District Court.

He allowed bail to Sawari as he was of the view, that the second charge under the Migration Act was defective.

It is defective because circumstances arising in the earlier charge (under the Passport Act) and the recent charge under the Migration Act are the same.

Both charges relate to Sawari obtaining a false PNG Passport and travelling to Fiji.

Justice Mogish said the prosecution of Sawari on the present charge under the Migration Act is a futile exercise and is of no utility, given the legal defense available to him, whether he is acquitted or convicted under the Passport Act.

He said Sawari was charged with an offense that has no legal basis and to be incarcerated on those basis is unjustifiable.

He exercised his discretion and granted bail on the similar terms as bail was granted to the charge under the Passport Act.

Sawari will return to court on April 18 where the District Court will make a ruling on an application his lawyer moved in court, asking it to dismiss his case on the basis police prosecution did not prove their case beyond reasonable doubt after the trial.

The 21-year-old refugee was taken to the Waigani Police Station on the afternoon of April 4, straight from his court trial at the Waigani District Court by police and Immigration officials.

He was then charged for making False Representation under section 16(1)(e) of the Migration Act.

He was also charged under section 16(1)(k) of the same act for using a passport which was fraudulently obtained.

Under section 16 of the Migration Act, (1) A person who; (e) makes or causes to be made a false return, false statement, false representation, or wilfully withholds any relevant fact or information in connection with an obligation imposed on him under or by virtue of this Act; or (k) without lawful authority has in his possession or uses a forged, unlawfully altered, or irregular passport or entry permit or a passport or entry permit in which an endorsement has been forged or unlawfully altered; is guilty of an offence.

The penalty is a fine not exceeding K5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.

Sawari was first arrested on Feb 3 for providing false information for the purpose of obtaining a PNG passport from the PNG Immigration and Citizen Services Authority, a charge that falls under section 16 (1) of the Passport Act of 1982.

He allegedly used false identification to obtain travel documents which he later used to leave PNG for Fiji.

For the first charge, his lawyer, Loani Henao told the District court that there was no evidence that he used a PNG Passport, number e133854 to travel out nor obtained the passport from falsified information. A ruling on the no-case submission is expected on April 11.

Sawari arrived in PNG from Christmas Island in 2013 as a 17-year-old seeking asylum.

He was processed in Manus and given a refugee status.

 (Loop PNG file picture of Sawari walking out of court on April 4.)


Sally Pokiton