10 Jul 2007

PNG rape convict tipped to win MP seat

12:19 pm on 10 July 2007

As the Papua New Guinea election is in its second week, there are predictions that a former provincial governor in jail for rape is set to win a seat in parliament.

James Yali, who is a former Madang Governor and MP, was sentenced to 12 years in jail in January 2006 for raping the 17-year-old sister of his de facto wife in October 2004.

Many observers, including a Madang regional MP and health minister, Sir Peter Barter, say Yali looksd like winning his seat because of block sympathy voting helped by fear of black magic and belief in cargo cults.

Though in jail, Yali was allowed to stand for election as an MP in his Rai Coast electorate because he has appealed against his rape conviction.

Sir Peter says the judge who ruled on Yali's case failed to take into account a new constitutional amendment that disqualified people from running for office if they were convicted of an indictable offence.

Sir Peter also says Yali continued to receive his full governor's pay plus entertainment and other expenses while in jail.