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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 2, 2002 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Disgraced Northern Province Governor Sylvanus Siembo, found guilty of misappropriating public funds, was sentenced to six years in prison, but will serve only three years.

Papua New Guinea National Court Justice Mark Sevua also handed down similar sentences for Copeland Gewa and Simon Sipo, found guilty of conspiring with Siembo to defraud the State of K 100,000 (US$ 27,740).

Siembo is the second provincial governor to be jailed in a month.

The K 100,000 (US$ 27,740) was purportedly obtained for the construction of the Bareji-Safia road in Northern Province but redirected to private company bank accounts.

Justice Sevua said the trio were public office holders who should be severely punished for committing the offence.

"The courts must act to protect the constant abuse of public trust and confidence by the country's leaders and senior bureaucrats when it comes to public monies," he said.

"The interest of the public is paramount here and therefore it must be protected."

Justice Sevua ordered that three years of their six-year jail terms be suspended on the condition that they each provide K 5,000 (US$ 1,387) surety, keep the peace and be of good behavior for two years after leaving prison.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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