Fake acquisition case returns to court, March 31
THE case of a private acquisition officer accused of falsifying documents produced to the Ministry of Lands regarding a land acquired for mining at Rennell, Renbel Province will return to court, March 31.
This is for a trial date to be set by Principal Magistrate Tearo Beneteti.
Laury Penrose Palmer is facing one count of corrupt practice.
A pre-trial conference was conducted yesterday via virtual audio link.
Prosecution indicated they will call five witness at the trial while the defence say they have three witnesses including the accused.
During the pre-trial conference the defence raised some issues on which the prosecution say they are still yet to finalise those issues.
Principal Magistrate Felix Hollison having heard from both counsels informed both counsels that there is civil case regarding this matter that could have answers to the issues raised by the defence.
He then advised both counsels to sort out the issues raised before trial.
It was also heard that witnesses are in Rennell and currently there is transportation difficulty due to the current situation of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
The alleged incident occurred on 4 February 2015, where Palmer allegedly falsify documents to the Commissioner of Lands.
The Commissioner of Lands then produced an Acquisition Report which contain some false information that are materials particular on 2 October 2014.
Prosecution alleged that Palmer intended to mislead the Commissioner of Lands by claiming that he had posted notices of the acquisition hearing at Labagu, Teabamagu, Tigoa, Matahenua and Kagua producing land title documents which claimed to be signed by a trustee of the west Rennell Customary Land.
According to the allegation, Palmer was appointed as a Land Acquisuition Officer on 26 August 2014 by the The Commissioner of Landsto acquire the customary lands of West Rennell for Mining.
The purpose of the acquisition is to allow Asia Pacific Investment & Development Limited (APID) to commence their mining operation.
On 5th October 2008, the Minister of Mining granted a prospecting mining license to Asia Pacific Investment & Development Limited (APID) and the license would have expired on the 4th of February 2015.
Following the appointment of the defendant, he travelled for West Rennell to conduct the acquisition of the West Rennell Customary Land.
During the acquisition process, it is alleged that he appointed four people for four wards which he strongly denied to be the respective trustees of the West Rennell Customary Land and then produced a false acquisition report to the Commissioner of Land.
Whitlam K Togamae lawyers represents the accused.
Men facing unlawful assembly to be summoned
NEW trial dates will be set for the case of the four young men accused of taking part in an unlawful assembly at Kastom Garden road area, Burns Creek in east Honiara during last November’s unrest.
This was after their trial that was set for 21 February to 25th did not eventuate due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 community transmission in the country.
Their matter was mentioned again in court this week via the virtual audio link but the accused did not join as they were not aware of this week’s date.
Public Prosecutor Samuel Tovosia told the court via the court zoom session that the court is supposed to set new trial dates for this matter.
A Public Solicitor lawyer Steven Weago who joined the court zoom session said he has no proper instructions on this matter from his colleague who represented the accused.
The accused are charged with unlawful assembly on 24 November 2021.
It was alleged that on that date at 8pm the five men were part of a group of men setting up road blocks at the road along the Kastom Garden area.
At that time, criminal activities and disturbances were happening in Honiara which resulted in looting, destruction and arson of shops and business houses.
A bank, police station and part of a high school were also burnt.
The criminal activities continued until 26 November 2021 when foreign troops came into the country to assist our local police to contain the criminal activities.
PSO lawyer Bobby Harunari represents the four accused.