Thursday, October 20, 2011

Court finds Grand Chief ‘not of unsound mind’

Source: Post Courier, Thursday October 20, 2011By TODAGIA KELOLA

OUSTED member for East Sepik and former Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare has not at any time been of unsound mind.
That is the finding of a one man Supreme Court bench, tasked by the full five men bench hearing a Supreme Court Reference on whether the election of Peter O’Neill as Prime Minister and the declaration by the Speaker of a vacancy in the East Sepik Regional Seat was constitutionally correct.
Justice David Cannings, after hearing all parties for six days, yesterday handed down a decision which will now help the full Supreme Court to narrow down the most contentious and relevant factual issues.
In a 45-page decision, Justice Cannings stated that the 47 issues of fact on which he was directed to take evidence and make findings of fact are those in paragraphs 28 to 75 of the statement of agreed and disputed facts put before the Supreme Court in September 27, 2011.
“The issues in those paragraphs have not been categorised or set out in chronological order, so I have categorised them myself. This will help the Supreme Court to narrow down the most contentious and relevant factual issues,” he said.
He categorised the disputed facts into nine categories starting with the Leadership Tribunal proceedings of March 2011, meetings of the Parliament in 2011, Sir Michael’s absence from Parliament in 2011, steps taken by the National Executive Council regarding Sir Michael’s absence and his health, events of August 2, 2011 relating to the appointment of Mr O’Neill as Prime Minister, events of September 6, 2011 relating to declaration of a vacancy in the East Sepik Provincial seat, media reports of events relating to the reference, Sir Michael’s medical treatment and his soundness of mind and decisions and resolutions of the referrer.
Justice Cannings after discussing the nine categories in detail concluded that seven of the nine categories of disputed issues of fact in the statement of agreed and disputed facts on which he was directed to make findings have proved, upon the taking of evidence to be largely uncontentious.
Only two categories have remained in dispute, which have given rise to what appear to be the most relevant questions of fact: (a) whether as a fact, the East Sepik Provincial Executive Council authorised the Reference; and (b) whether Sir Michael Somare has been at any time of unsound mind.
On those issues he ruled that (a)that the East Sepik Provincial Executive Council authorised the Reference; and (b) that Sir Michael Somare has not at any material time been of unsound mind.

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