PNG MP Ousted For Bribery During Last Election

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Gordon Wesley application for judicial review rejected

By Adam Mera

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 1, 2016) – Samarai-Murua MP Gordon Wesley has been ousted for committing bribery and a by-election for the electorate is expected soon.

This is following a Supreme Court ruling last Friday refusing his application seeking a judicial review of a decision by the National Court (Court of Disputed Return) on November 29, 2014, that voided his election by declaring a by-election.

The ruling was handed down by a three-man bench comprising Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika, Justices Sir Bernard Sakora and Derek Hartshorn.

According to the bench, the National Court found Wesley guilty of bribery under section 103 of the Criminal Code Act and the sitting judge Justice Bernard Sakora did not err in law when passing the decision.

The petitioner was the runner-up of the Samarai-Murua seat Isi Henry Leonard.

Following the Court of Disputed Returns’ decision in 2014, Wesley made an application for leave for review of the decision, which was granted on February 4 last year.

The bench said the court in its decision in 2014 said the presentation of a truck key to Bagilina village Councillor Steven Stanley at West Liak village in Misima was planned and orchestrated by Wesley to "induce" votes.

This is because the presentation of the vehicle – approved for purchase by the joint district budget priorities and planning committee for the Bagalina people – coincided with the launch of Wesley’s 2012 election campaign.

Sir Gibbs, in reading the Supreme Court’s ruling, said evidence showed that "… Wesley had travelled on the MV Samarai Murua (boat)" to West Liak as an integral part of the launching of his campaign.

He said the purchase of the vehicle was in order however, the handing over of the keys to the truck was not.

Quoting Justice Sakora’s ruling, Sir Gibbs said "the presentation of the truck preceded the launch (of the campaign). To my mind the presentation had to be part of the program of the launch".

It was like "Alright I have given you a vehicle now you must vote for me for more such goods", the Deputy Chief Justice stated.

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