Tribunal awaits Pruaitch’s appeal

The leadership tribunal inquiry hearing into allegations of misconduct in office by Aitape-Lumi MP, Patrick Pruaitch, will await the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal before it resumes the hearing.

Members of the tribunal, led by Chairman and Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, adjourned the hearing pending the outcome of an appeal Pruaitch filed in July.

The appeal is on the jurisdiction of the tribunal, whether the leader has the right to be heard by the Ombudsman Commission after “further” investigations on the allegations.

Although no stay has been obtained, preventing the tribunal hearing going ahead before the appeal is heard, the members of the tribunal were of the view they should await the decision of the Supreme Court to determine whether they have the jurisdiction to conduct the hearing.

The notice of appeal has been filed in the Supreme Court with a proposed hearing date in the October Supreme Court sitting.

The leader is facing nine allegations of misconduct in office relating to double-dipping of vehicle allowance, entertainment allowance, misappropriation of 2003 District Support Grant and his failure to give annual statements between 2002 to2005 to the Ombudsman Commission, and failure to declare a gift.

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 he filed an appeal before the Supreme Court on July 29 on his right to be heard under section 59 of the Constitution.

Sally Pokiton