Papua New Guinea Foreign Affairs Minister Pruaitch suspended
Papua New Guinea AITAPE-Lumi MP and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Patrick Pruaitch has been suspended from office on full pay, following his referral by the public prosecutor to the Leadership Tribunal for “misconduct in office”.
Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika informed Pruaitch, the leader of the National Alliance Party, in a letter that a panel comprising a judge and two senior magistrates had been set up to inquire into allegations of misconduct in office against him.
He will be assisted by senior magistrates Michael Apie’e and Nancy Lipai. Pruaitch told The National yesterday that he welcomed the decision.
“I welcome the empanelling of the leadership tribunal and am looking forward to expeditiously dealing with this case,” he said.
Justice Sir Gibbs said Pruaitch’s suspension was in accordance with the Organic Law on duties and responsibilities of leadership.
Justice Sir Gibbs said the appointment of the tribunal was requested by Public Prosecutor Pondros Kaluwin.
The tribunal will set a date and time to begin its sitting.
The National reported last December that Pruaitch would face the tribunal – more than 10 years after he was first referred by the Ombudsman Commission.
The commission on July 22, 2009, had referred Pruaitch, then the minister for treasury and finance, to the Public Prosecutor for alleged misconduct in office. Since then, the commission had faced legal challenges from Pruaitch, preventing the Leadership Tribunal from performing its enquiry into his conduct.
On Dec 6, 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed by Pruaitch against a decision of the National Court to throw out his legal challenge to his referral by the Ombudsman Commission.