Trial date moved for landowner and lawyer

A trial will be conducted in Kiunga on April 3 for a landowner from the Western Province and his lawyer over allegations they misused landowners’ monies amounting to K5 million in 2014.

David Kaya and his lawyer, Philip Kamen, will stand trial in Kiunga on April 3. They appeared at the Waigani National Court today before Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, who finalised the trial date.

The trial was initially set for March 6 however, that has been moved because presiding judge in Daru, acting Judge Danajo Koeget, will be away in Kerema on Court Circuit.

Despite the matter being prosecuted in Port Moresby during the Committal Court stage, it will be transferred to the Western Province where the trial will be heard because most of the witnesses are based there.

Kaya, who is a landowner representative and Kamen, are in court over allegations they misused K5 million, monies belonging to the landowners of East Awin in North Fly.

The K5 million was payment for a piece of land acquired by the State for the resettlement of West Papua refugees at the East Awin camp.

The money was allocated as a result of an NEC decision back in 1997, which was only released in 2014 after Kaya incorporated a company which was set up to be responsible for paying the landowners.

It is alleged Kaya instructed his lawyer, Kamen, who wrote a letter to Treasury Department on July 25, 2014, for the release of the funds.

A form was signed with the Treasury Department for the release of the funds however, Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele, on August 12, 2014, put a stop to the releasing of the fund to verify the authenticity of the payment.

Kamen, then on instructions, allegedly wrote to Treasury Minister Patrick Pruaitch, requesting for the funds to be released.

The funds were released on October 13, 2014, and allegedly deposited into Philip Kamen Lawyers trust account.

The funds were later allegedly withdrawn from the trust account and deposited into various bank accounts, which did not belong to the intended recipients of the funds – the East Awin landowners.

Sally Pokiton