LEVELA GUILTY - Solomon Star News

LEVELA GUILTY
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17 April 2018
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Johnson Levela [Photo: www.sicr.gov.sb]

Speaker of Temotu Provincial Assembly Johnson Levela has been found guilty of corruptly receiving more than $37,000 of business license fees from a logging company and two shipping companies when he was the premier of Temotu Provincial Government.

Levela was convicted on his own guilty pleas to six counts of abuse of office last Thursday at a Magistrates’ Court sitting at Lata, Temotu Province.

This was in relation to incidents in 2006, 2007 and 2008, when Mr Levela was the premier of Temotu Provincial Government.

During those times, he corruptly received a total of $37,125 being business license fees from the Earth Mover Logging company, Tremax Shipping & Trading Company and the Solfish Company for his own benefit.

Chief Magistrate Emma Garo will hand down Levela’s sentence in the Honiara Magistrates’ Court on Thursday this week.

Levela was initially charged with six counts of official corruption contrary to section 91(a) of the Penal Code (CP)  and 12 counts of conversion contrary to section 278 (1) (b) Penal Code.

Before witnesses were called in the trial that commenced on April 9, (last Monday) at Lata, prosecution has withdrawn 12 counts of conversion charges due to insufficient evidence.

The police may still charge the accused if they locate the PVs and receipts that are not available to prove these charges.

Public Prosecutor Bradley Dalipanda has been calling witnesses to testify since the trial commenced until Thursday last week, when he made a proposal to the defense.

This is for the accused to enter a guilty plea to six counts of abuse of office contrary to section 96(1) Penal Code as substituted charges for the six counts of official corruption.

Mr Chris Rarumae of Public Solicitor’s Office who represented Levela received the proposal on behalf o his client and informed his client about it.

As a result of this development during the trial, the court was informed and parties were asked for further time so that discussions around the offer can be made further.

After some time of discussions Mr. Levela graciously accepted the offer by the crown.

Mr Dalipanda was informed about this through Mr. Rarumae on Thursday.

On the same day, a sanction to prosecute the accused on the charge of Abuse of Office as required by section 96 (2) Penal Code was issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Ronald Bei Talasasa.

Prosecution then made the application in court on the next day to withdraw the six counts of official corruption charges purposely to allow the prosecution to file and lay new charges of abuse of office.

Levela then entered guilty pleas to the six counts of abuse and Ms Garo having heard the facts read in court convicted him based on his own guilty pleas.

The mitigation and sentencing submissions were made thereafter by both counsels.

The matter was then adjourned to this Thursday for sentence in the Honiara Magistrates’ Court in the absence of Levela.

Levela who will be in Lata at that time has consented for his sentence to be delivered by the court in his absence.

By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN

 

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