Trio ask court to discharge them

​Three accused persons standing trial in court over the alleged misuse of funds belonging to the National Library and Archives have asked the court to stop the trial and discharge them from the allegations.

Lawyers for the former director of the National Library and Archives, Jacob Hevelawa, his wife Miriam Hevelawa, and the former corporate service manager of the National Library and Archives, Timothy Numara, moved a no case submission asking the Waigani National Court to discharge them.

They moved the application after the state closed its evidence in the trial, saying the state's evidence produced in the trial so far is misconceived and that witnessed called by the state gave opinions rather than evidence.

The two lawyers representing the three accused said the state did not provide enough evidence to establish the elements of the charges.

They also said all procurement processes were followed, including requirements under the Public Finance Management Act.

They further added that payments made to Paja Sisters Limited were for outstanding owed from services provided.

They maintained the state did not establish the elements of abuse of office, misappropriation and conspiracy to defraud.

State, on the other hand, submitted that they did establish elements of the charge for the accused to answer to.

State prosecutor said the contract was awarded on a conflict of interest basis because Miriam, the owner of Paja Sisters Ltd, is the wife of the former director of the National Library and Archives.

Trial judge and Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika reserved his decision on the no case submission to Friday.

The three were arrested and charged in January 2016 with one count each of abuse of office, dishonestly applying K118,846.30 and conspiracy to defraud the state of the said amount.

It is alleged Numara and Hevelawa corruptly awarded a contract for grass cutting, landscaping and rubbish removal to Paja Sisters Limited, a company owned by Miriam.

The project was allegedly paid in three lots of payment totaling K118,846.30, an amount not justified by the actual work done.

Sally Pokiton