FORMER PNG COMMANDER CLEARED OF SEDITION

admin's picture

By Moresi Ruahmaa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Mar. 2) – Fiji’s former defense chief, Major-Gen Jerry Singirok, was acquitted of 1997 sedition charges in connection with the Bougainville conflict yesterday.

National Court judge Catherine Davani ruled that Gen Singirok had acted innocently when he called on the prime minister and defense minister in 1997 to resign, and for the people to join the army and police to remove the government of the day.

"The accused's intentions were innocent as demonstrated by the facts presented," he said.

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Gen Singirok said it was a "selective and vindictive trial because those involved and committed in the destruction of lives were never prosecuted".

He also said that he has no immediate plans but was prepared to rejoin the PNG Defense Force if the government wished.

He thanked family members, former army colleagues and others who supported him through the past seven years after he was sacked from the force.

Gen Singirok was dismissed and charged after he made an "address to the nation" during a radio program on March 17, 1997 when he called for then Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan and then Defense Minister Mahtias Ijape to resign for hiring Sandline mercenaries to fight in the Bougainville conflict.

The State contended that he tried to create ill-feelings and tension among the people to revolt against the government.

He was also alleged to have met with senior army officers, the police commissioner and his deputy over the Sandline issue, and thereafter, the governor-general.

Judge Davani said yesterday that the State had failed to prove its case of sedition beyond reasonable doubt.

He said the criminal standard of proof should be applied in establishing whether the offence of sedition was committed.

"The court cannot convict on the uncorroborated evidence of one witness," he said.

March 3, 2004

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment