Tari-Pori petition trial commences

An election petition challenging James Marape’s win as Tari-Pori MP commenced today at the Waigani National Court.

Summons were also issued by the court today for the Tari Election manageress and Returning officer to appear in court this Friday.

Following the March 13 ruling which saw 10 of the 13 petition grounds dismissed, parties returned before Justice David Cannings today.

Two preliminary motions were addressed this morning by the court before trial commenced.

James Marape’s lawyer, Robert Leo asked the court to reconsider its decision of March 13, when it dismissed his objection to competency motion.

He also raised an issue that he did not pursue during competency hearing.

Justice Cannings refused Marape’s motion saying it was a bad practice to strategies and reserve objection grounds to revive later before the same court.

Two summonses were also issued for Two Electoral Commission officials to appear in court this Friday. They are the Tari-Pori Returning officer as well as an Election Manageress.  

Hearing of evidence commenced this afternoon on three grounds.

Petitioner Johnny Pokaya is relying on two grounds of bribery and one of undue influence in the trial.

Ground 1 is allegations of bribery committed by Marape at Paipali village, Tari Urban LLG (Local-level Government).

It is alleged that on Sunday 25th June 2017, Marape at Paipali village, Tari-Urban LLG gave K10,000 in cash to the President of the Tebi LLG and others.

Ground 4 is also allegations bribery committed by Marape at Andawale ward  2,  in the Tebi LLG.

It alleged that also on Sunday 25 June 2017 at around 12 noon at Marape’s residence located at Paipali village, Tari-Urban LLG, he gave the Councillor for Andawale No 2 ward,K10,000  in cash.

The final ground is ground 4, which isallegations of undue influence committed by a person other than the first respondent, Pai 2 ward, Tebi LLG.

It alleges that on 27 June 2017, between 5 pm to 11 pm, at Haro village, the gazetted polling place, Mr Warren Marape, the MP’s brother, supporters and scrutineers threatened to use force on eligible voters.

The trial continues at Waigani.               

Picture: Tari-Pori MP and Finance Minister James Marape addressing his supporters outside court today. 

Sally Pokiton