Aust judge to hear PNG PM misconduct case
09:27 AEST Tue Feb 22 2011
Former Australian Federal Court judge Roger Gyles will chair a three-man tribunal hearing misconduct allegations against Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare.
PNG's Chief Justice Sir Salamo Inja in a written statement on Monday night said the high profile case will start on March 10 and cover allegations Sir Michael failed to lodge financial statements as far back as 20 years.
Justice Gyles, who retired in 2008, has a long and illustrious career and will sit alongside esteemed colleagues Sir Bruce Robertson from New Zealand and Sir Robin Auld from the United Kingdom, both who now work in courts in the Pacific.
Justice Gyles is no stranger to PNG having lectured law at the university in the 1960s.
Sir Salamo said PM Somare has been informed of the appointment of the tribunal.
"The allegations of misconduct will be formerly presented to the tribunal by the public prosecutor on March 10."
Whether Sir Michael will have to stand down as PM during the inquiry is to be determined by the tribunal, he said.
In December last year Sir Michael voluntarily stood aside to face the leadership tribunal but in January this year, with the inquiry still not established, he resumed office claiming he had simply been away on holidays.
The story changed again when the PM's office admitted the rewriting of history was in fact poor legal advice that led to Sir Michael's hiatus from office during a turbulent end to 2010.
The embattled PM, 74, who has been PNG's PM four times in a political career spanning 40 years, more recently staved off several attempts to overthrow the government via a vote of no-confidence motion.
Last Friday PNG's Attorney General Sir Arnold Ahmet told a press conference the public prosecutor who launched the case against Sir Michael was sacked for "not performing".
Senior PNG prosecutor Camillus Sambua, from the same East Sepik province as the prime minister, hadbeen appointed to the position.
Despite outrage by the PNG opposition and non-government organisations Sir Arnold denied any political link to the moves