by Serah Aupong – EM TV, Port Moresby
The suspended clerk of parliament, Vela Konivaro, appeared in court this morning as part of an ongoing case seeking a judicial review over his suspension by the National Executive Council (NEC).
He was suspended over allegations of misconduct in office.
The court heard this morning that the NEC suspended Mr Konivaro on the 7th of August this year following the referral of the Speaker of Parliament, Theo Zurenuoc. The Speaker had received reports of allegations against Konivaro of tempering with draft bills and misusing funds for personal use.
Mr Konivaro’s lawyer, Justin Isaac of Lawama Lawyers, argued that due processes were not followed in Mr Konivaro’s suspension and that the decision was unreasonable, biased and harsh. He argued that Konivaro was not allowed the right to respond to the allegations before he was suspended and referred to the Chief Justice for a tribunal hearing.
Lawyers representing the defendants, Peter Kuman of Lawama Lawyers and Ian Molloy argued that Mr Konivaro was given time to respond, which he did when he responded to the allegations raised to him in writing from the Speaker.
This decision is not unreasonable, they argue, because of the nature of the allegations and it is not harsh because while Mr Konivaro is suspended, he will still receive his full salary.
Justice Collin Makail, who heard the arguments this morning, set the date for the decision to be handed down on the 23rd of this month.
Cases of leaders coming before the courts are increasing; just yesterday, Gulf Governor Havila Kavo was sentenced 18 months in prison for misappropriating funds.