PNG MEDIA SEEK OPEN DOOR ON MOTI HEARINGS

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By Julia Daia Bore

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 11) - Counsel assisting the PNG Defence Force Board of Inquiry into the Julian Moti affair, John Kawi will today make an application to allow the media and interested members of the public to sit in on the proceedings.

And if the inquiry board panel consisting of chairman Justice Gibbs Salika, his deputy retired Brigadier General Anthony Huai and Daniel Liosi rules in favor of the inquiry being public, the media will immediately be allowed into the proceedings, Mr. Kawi said.

The counsel told The National late yesterday of his intentions saying that his application was based on information from the Defence Minister’s initial announcement on December 12, when he launched the inquiry under the Defence Force Act.

He said that towards the end of the press conference, a journalist had specifically asked this question and the minister may have responded that it was a "public" inquiry.

Meanwhile, the inquiry yesterday saw four witnesses testify before it.

Kawi said the longest session for the day was hearing evidences from the PNGDF Operations Commander Lieutenant Colonel Ron Hosea, which took two and half hours.

Lieutenant Colonel Hosea was the co-pilot on the clandestine Defence Force CASA plane that spirited fugitive lawyer Moti from Port Moresby to Munda in Solomon Islands in the early hours of October 10.

Other witnesses at yesterday’s session were the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Leonard Louma, an Air Niugini Customs officer David Yawingu, Jerry Fruanga from the Office of the Security Coordination & Assessment (OSCA) and former foreign diplomat Barney Rongap.

Three others scheduled for the day were asked to return today. They are retired army officer Job Kasa, who is currently with OSCA, Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) customs officer Naime Aeava and former Defence secretary Steven Raphael, who is currently acting OSCA director-general.

Kawi said he expected to bring before the inquiry an estimated five witnesses to give their evidences today.

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