12 Jun 2007

PNG judge charges three state lawyers with contempt of court

12:58 pm on 12 June 2007

A judge in Papua New Guinea has charged three senior state lawyers with contempt of court after they failed to prosecute an armed robbery suspect, whose case he subsequently dismissed and allowed to walk free.

One of the lawyers, Joel Done, spent a night at the Kerevat jail outside Rabaul, while acting Public Prosecutor, Jack Pambel and his deputy, Camillus Sambua, were allowed bail.

Justice Mark Sevua is quoted in the newspaper, The National, as saying the standard of professionalism in the Public Prosecutor's office was deteriorating and something needed to be done about it.

Mr Done told the court he did not attend and prosecute the case because of funding problems.

But, the judge said that kind of conduct by state lawyers was occurring frequently, the excuses by the Public Prosecutor's office were too common, and the lack of case preparation added to the declining standards.

Justice Sevua remarked that perhaps imprisoning a few state prosecutors would drive the message home.