14 Mar 2011

Tribunal says Somare can stay as PM during misconduct hearing

7:55 pm on 14 March 2011

A leadership tribunal has ruled Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister can continue as the country's leader while it hears allegations of misconduct against him.

The three-member tribunal bench has decided two-to-one in favour of Sir Michael Somare remaining in the top job.

The tribunal has for the third day been hearing 25 allegations that the Prime Minister failed to complete or did not file financial statements from as far back as 20 years ago.

Our correspondent Jonathon Tannos says the judges will give their reasons for their decision at a later date, but it may be challenged as soon as Tuesday.

"There may be submissions from perhaps the Ombudsman Commission or the Office of the Public Prosecutor for the Prime Minister to step down."

From the witness box Sir Michael has told a packed courtroom he had always submitted his financial records to the Ombudsman Commission.

But the Prime Minister also said that missing financial statements central to the prosecution's case could have been lost when he moved office or changed jobs, or been lost by a staff member.

Sir Michael was also asked about his financial earnings relating to his statements, and said he never received any extra pay.