South Guadalcanal MP goes on trial for the second time
MEMBER of Parliament for South Guadalcanal David Dei Pacha is again standing full trial in the Honiara Magistrates’ Court in relation to alleged misuse of public funds.
Pacha stood trial for the second time around after the High Court remitted his case back to the Magistrates’ Court.
This was after the Crown successfully appealed Pacha’s acquittal.
Pacha was freed from the charges in 2012, following a no case to answer submission presented by his lawyer at the end of the Crown’s case during the trial.
This was for the charges of conversion and abuse of office.
The charges stemmed from allegations he misused more than $148, 000 of public funds intended for a micro-project in his constituency in 2006.
Crown Prosecutor Augustine Aulanga after opening the Crown’s case on Monday called his first witness, Rolland Seleso who gave his evidence in chief.
His evidence in chief completed yesterday and he will be grilled by the defence counsel today.
The hearing was adjourned to today after a half day hearing yesterday because Pacha’s lawyer Gabriel Suri of Suri’s Legal Practice has a high court matter to attend to in the afternoon.
Prosecution will call only seven witnesses and produce several exhibits while it will tender 15 witnesses’ statements and various exhibitions by consent.
Mr Aulanga in his opening address said Pacha stands trial for two offences he allegedly committed during October 1 and November 24, 2006.
“The Crown says that there was in existence at the material time a project called the South Guadalcanal Fiberglass project chaired by the complainant Rolland Seleso,” Mr Aulanga said.
“The project, which had as its specific purpose to train members of the South Guadalcanal community in the skill of boat building, was funded by the Republic of China (ROC) through its local embassy after a process of scrunity and approval of the project proposal by the Government of Solomon Islands and ROC.”
The court heard that the funds were designed to purchase the works material and tools needed to deliver the training.
“A total of $300,000 was approved by ROC, payable in two progressive tranches.
“The funds were managed by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development (MID) which disbursed it according to established procedures to ensure that the funds were expended only for the project that was approved, and done so in an accountable manner.
“The first tranche of $150,000 had been disbursed earlier in accordance with that procedure and it was the second tranche that is the subject of this trial,” Mr Aulanga said.
He said the Crown’s case is that Pacha prevailed on persons managing the funds to transfer funds directly to the constituency funds under his control.
“This was done contrary to the established funding procedure in which individual payments the fund was managed only and directly by MID and that payment could only be authorized after proforma invoices were submitted by the project owner.”
Mr Aulanga said between October 1 and November 24, 2006, Pacha prevailed on others to transfer the entire sum of $148,950 to a constituency account under his control.
“He never informed nor consulted Mr Seleso about the transfer of the fund and he proceeded to apply those funds for purpose other than the ones they were designated for, and in a manner contrary to the procedure covering the use of such aid- sponsored project.
“The funds were used for purchase of fiberglass boats and outboard motors engines, not the fiberglass work materials and tools for which the money was approved and transmitted, in accordance with the project proposal and approval.”
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN