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February 27, 2021
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Court Dismisses Charges Against Potape

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The misappropriation charges against Komo-Magarima MP, Francis Potape, were dismissed last Friday by the Waigani National Court due to a lack of evidence.

The court found Potape not guilty on two counts of misappropriation involving K330,000 belonging to his electorate.

Presiding Judge, Justice George Manuhu, found that there was no sufficient evidence provided by the state prosecution to support the charges.

On July 14, after the retrial of Potape ended, his lawyer Justin Haiara filed a No Case to Answer submission.

Haiara argued that there were insufficient evidence for the court to convict Potape.

The state alleged that between  November 1-30, 2010 in Mendi, Potape, the then Chairman of the Komo-Magarima Joint District Planning and Budget Priority Committee, consented with his 10 committee members and dishonestly applied a sum of K330,000 as a sitting allowance.

From the total, K60,000 was alleged to have been paid to Potape, and K270,000 was alleged to have been paid to the committee members in the sum of K30,000 each.

The court had found that the meeting minutes of the Joint District Planning and Budget Priority Committee on November 20, 2010, which was provided as evidence to the court, did not indicate any act of misappropriation by Potape.

The court ruled that the prosecution fell short of the evidence they provided that Potape and his committee had received the money.

The court ordered that Potape be discharged and his Supreme Court bail of K1,000 be refunded.

Potape is expected to file a lawsuit against the state for serving almost six months in prison for this same charge.

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