PNG Governor fined over contempt

2:42 pm on 29 July 2016

Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court has fined the Governor of Eastern Highlands province around $US5,000 on a contempt charge.

The Governof of Papua New Guinea's Eastern Highlands Province, Julie Soso, July 2016.

The Governof of Papua New Guinea's Eastern Highlands Province, Julie Soso, July 2016. Photo: YUMI FM News / Peter Kinjap

Julie Soso was found by the court to have been in contempt for her actions in a recent dispute over an appointment of the Eastern Highlands provincial administrator.

Mrs Soso signed a letter dated 16 February this year, instructing Solomon Tato to step aside as provincial administrator.

The Supreme Court found this breached the court's order the previous day reinstating Mr Tato as administrator.

Governor Soso has been ordered to pay the fine out of her own pocket and not from public funds before August 31 or serve a default sentence of six months in prison.

PNG Loop reports that the court accepted Mrs Soso's explanation that it was not her intention to disobey orders.

She said she was not made aware of the court orders of 15 February when she signed the letter.

Justice David Cannings, in reading the decision of the three-man Supreme Court bench on Thursday, said contempt of court was a serious matter taking into consideration aggravating factor that Governor Soso was found guilty of disobeying orders of the High Court and the most senior judicial officer, the Chief Justice.

Surrounded by supporters outside the court, Governor Soso indicated she accepted the judge's decision and would pay the court fine immediately.

The Governor of Papua New Guinea's Eastern Highlands province, Julie Soso, surrounded by supporters.

The Governor of Papua New Guinea's Eastern Highlands province, Julie Soso, surrounded by supporters. Photo: YUMI FM News / Peter Kinjap

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court precint in Waigani was the scene of a more rowdy reception to another MP's court proceedings this week.

The Western Province Governor Ati Wobiro had been found guilty of conspiring to misappropriate provincial funds.

However as the Governor and his co-accused were departing the court area to return to Bomana prison, media personnel trying to photograph them were reportedly assaulted and verbally abused by an unruly group of people.

PNG's Media Council has condemned what it says was an unacceptable attack by a mob trying to prevent media personnel from the Post-Courier, the National and Loop PNG covering the case.