PNG COURT TO HEAR MOTI INQUIRY CASES

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 15) - The National Court will finally hear the two separate court proceedings questioning the validity of the Defence Force Board of Inquiry into the controversial Julian Moti affair in September.

Deputy Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia yesterday informed parties the substantive applications would be heard by Justice Bernard Sakora on September 3 and 4.

The separate proceedings were filed by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare (OS 152 of 2007), and Defence Force Captain Tom Ur and Colonel Vagi Oala (OS 116 of 2007) have been merged by the court for a joint hearing.

Sir Michael, in late February this year, filed court proceedings seeking ultimately to declare entire proceedings of the Defence Force board of inquiry null and void since the inquiry began.

Sir Michael, as the sole plaintiff in the proceedings, named the board of inquiry members -- National and Supreme Court judge Gibbs Salika, retired brigadier general Anthony Huai and Daniel Liosi and former Defence Minister Martin Aini as the respective first and second defendants.

Sir Michael, in an originating summons, seeks a declaration the board of inquiry, established by Mr. Aini and gazetted in National Gazette No.G223 dated December 7, 2006, "has exceeded its jurisdiction" in view of the fact the eight weeks prescribed under the terms of reference for its inquiry, which began on December 14, 2006, had lapsed and the entire proceedings of the board of inquiry had become a nullity.

Captainb Ur and Colonel Oala seek similar orders and a further order prohibiting the Defence Minister from "reproducing, copying for distribution, or in any way publishing the final report."

Meanwhile, Sir Michael’s lawyer Kerenga Kua said while the matter was still before the court, any calls of the release or publication of the Moti report were "subjudice."

"Those making the call have pre-judged the final report to be legally valid. Validity is the very issue before the court. And so is the question of release. This conduct may amount to contempt of court," Mr. Kua said.

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