Verdict devalues code says Opposition
Yesterday we dreamed

Big kina hole in evidence to Tribunal


WHILE MANY PEOPLE are angry and frustrated at the slap on the wrist given to Michael Somare after he was found guilty on 13 charges of misconduct in office, the media and other commentators seem blind to the glaring hole in the PM's evidence to the Leadership Tribunal.

On Monday 14 March, Somare gave sworn evidence that he had never had any salary other than his parliamentary salary ever since he entered parliament in 1968. The PM also maintained he never received any income from his only business, a plantation he owns in Wewak.

“I have been living on a parliamentary salary from 1968 up until today; I do not have any other extra salary for any other businesses except for transport and travel allowances which are parliamentary benefits.”

If this is true, and the Prime Minister's only income is his Parliamentary salary, then how has he been able to fund a three year legal battle to avoid the Leadership Tribunal and how has he paid for his large and expensive legal team over the last two weeks?

The Prime Ministers base salary was increased last November by 52% to K262,762; it was previously K172, 770.

For the last two weeks the Prime Minister has been represented by an impressive legal team comprising Kerenga Kua, Justin Wohuinangu and Brisbane-based lawyer Ian Molloy.

Estimated cost, around K40,000 a day - a minimum K400,000 for the two weeks of the Tribunal's deliberations.

But the Leadership Tribunal has been only the culmination of a three-year legal battle between the Prime Minister and the Ombudsman Commission.

Since the Ombudsman Commission referred Michael Somare to the Public Prosecutor in 2008, there have been at least three protracted court challenges mounted by the Prime Minister, one in the National Court and two in the Supreme Court.

Each piece of litigation would have cost Michael Somare upwards of K100,000 in legal fees and disbursements.

How has a man who until last November was living on a gross salary of K172,000 been able to afford something over K700,000 in legal costs?

While we wait for Michael Somare to answer this question, we can also wonder about the competency of the Ombudsman Commission and Public Prosecutor who patently failed to put this question to the PM when they had him under oath in the witness box.


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