PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March. 22, 2011) - Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare has been found guilty of 13 of the 25 charges of misconduct laid against him by the Ombudsman Commission.

He was found guilty on five charges relating to providing late returns and eight charges relating to filing incomplete annual statements to the Commission as required under the Leadership Code.

But he was acquitted and found not guilty of the three more serious charges of failing to provide any statement at all to the Commission while the other nine charges were summarily dismissed because the tribunal felt that they were irrelevant and were not pressed on by the public prosecutor.

In a very brief appearance, the three-member Tribunal led by former Australian Federal Court judge, Roger Gyles, New Zealander Sir Bruce Robertson and Englishman Sir Robin Auld gave a brief summary of their decision and adjourned the hearing to this morning for submissions on penalty.

Chairman Gyles who read their decision explained briefly that "the allegations of misconduct in office by Sir Michael as a leader, all relate to or arise out of the obligation imposed on him by the Organic law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership which was to give to the Ombudsman Commission statements of income, assets, other interests and liabilities."

He explained further that there was no allegation of a breach of any of the substantive provisions of part II of the Organic Law on Leadership which prohibit various corrupt practices.

This is to enable the Ombudsman Commission to keep track of the assets, income, liabilities and dealings of a leader each 12 months. Scrutiny of those statements over time will assist in detecting possible breaches of the Organic Law on Leadership.

In addition the Organic Law on Leadership gives the Ombudsman Commission functions and powers of examination and investigation of each statement lodged with it

They emphasized that timely statements is a fundamental plank in ensuring that a person carries out his public duties as a leader with integrity.

The purpose of the Leadership Code is to "preserve the people of Papua New Guinea from misconduct by its leaders".

It is envisaged that the Public Prosecutor will be asking the tribunal for the maximum penalty of dismissal from office while Sir Michael’s counsel will be arguing for a penalty of fine for each of the guilty charges.

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