PNG: Jailed MP Free After Conviction Overturned

admin's picture

Supreme Court ruled on misuse of public funds

By Jeffrey Elapa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, August 3, 2015) – Jailed Komo Magarima MP Francis Potape is now a free man after his conviction was quashed by the Supreme Court on Friday.

Mr Potape was jailed by the National Court for two and half years in February concurrently for misusing public funds of more than K300,000 [US$97,000] paid as sitting allowances to members of the joint district planning and budget priority committee.

He appealed for bail to appeal against his conviction but was refused by the National Court.

However, Mr Potape did not give up knowing his conviction was wrong and went to the Supreme Court with his lawyer Ian Molley and assisted by Justin Hara.

His appeal was successful when a three-men Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia allowed his appeal, quashed his conviction and set aside his sentence.

The Supreme Court also ordered the matter be remitted to the National Court for retrial before another Judge and that the appellant be discharged from custody forthwith with bail of K10, 000 [US$3,000] be held on the condition that he shall appear for mention in the National Court at 9:30am on the September 7, 2015.

Mr Potape who walked out thanked his Lawyers, for taking his matter up until his release after spending seven months in jail at Bomana.

Mr Potape thanked the Supreme Court bench for upholding the justice system which is a relief for him.

He said it has not been easy fighting battle one after another including the court case against his win in the 2007 in which he went back for a by-election and was re-elected.

"I’m free now after spending seven months in prison and I thank my lawyers and the three-man Supreme Court for a fair decision.

He said he was ready to serve his people after denying their rights for the last seven months and will continue from where he left.

"There should be enough money for the district as I’ve never authorised anyone to access the people’s money. It was a joint district budget priority committee’s decision that I was jailed.

"The problem of Komo Magarima is not money but it’s about leading the people and I’m back to provide the leadership they have missed since my absence," Mr Potape said.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment