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Prime minister accused of failing to report income

By Todagia Kelola PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 22, 2011) – In Papua New Guinea, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, has finally appointed a Leadership Tribunal to inquire into allegations of misconduct in office by the Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare.

Sir Salamo said yesterday that having considered the request made by the Acting Public Prosecutor on 16 December 2010, there exist no impediments which stands in the way of an appointment of a Leadership Tribunal to enquire into the allegations and has therefore appointed a Leadership Tribunal.

The tribunal will enquire into certain allegations of misconduct in office relating to Sir Michael Somare’s alleged failure to lodge to the Ombudsman Commission his Annual Leadership Returns for a number of years.

[PIR editor’s note: The allegations against Somare relate to his alleged failure to furnish nine financial statements to the Ombudsman between 1993 and 2004, and his submittal of incomplete statements from 1992 to 2005. Radio New Zealand International reports Somare has accused the media of lying about him, his family and the Ombudsman’s charges.]

In a statement, he also made it clear that for avoidance of doubt, pursuant to Section 142 (6) of the Constitution subject to which Section 28 of the Organic Law on Duties of Responsibilities of Leadership is to be read, the question of suspension pending investigation into the question of misconduct in office of the Prime Minister, is to be determined by the Tribunal.

The importance of the high office Sir Michael Somare holds prompted Sir Salamo to appoint imminent former judges from the High Courts of three well established common law jurisdictions.

The membership of the tribunal wholly comprise of former judges from, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

The Chairman and members of the Tribunal are:

Roger Gyles AO QC (Chairman); a former Judge of the Federal Court of Australia (at first instance and on appeal), the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and the supreme Court of New South Wales.

Sir Bruce Robertson (Member); a former Judge of the Court of Appeal and the High Court of New Zealand; currently presiding Judge of the Court of Appeal of Vanuatu and Judge of the Court of Appeal of Samoa and Sir Robin Auld (Member); Former Lord Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales; former Judge of the High Court of Justice, Queens Bench Division of England and Wales; and currently President of the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands.

The appointments were made in consultation with the Chief Justice of those countries. Their appointments are provided for in s 27 (7) (d) (iii) and 98) of the Organic Law on Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership.

The allegations of misconduct will be presented to the Tribunal by the Public Prosecutor on Thursday, March 10 at the Waigani Supreme Court building.

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