THE court will today rule on an application made to vary the bail conditions of the former Minister of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening, David Tome, who faces conversion charges to enable him to travel to Australia for medical review.
Michael Pitakaka of Michael Pitakaka Law Chamber submitted the application on Tuesday on behalf of Tome.
The Member of Parliament for Baegu/Asifola intends to travel to Australia for his medical review which was scheduled for May 2 and will return on May 11.
Chief Magistrate Emma Garo however raised concerns in relation to the return date given that the trial will commence on May 7, which means Tome will miss his trial.
Mr Pitakaka on instructions of his client told the court they can reschedule the return date to a date before May 7.
Ms Garo then asked the defence if a confirmed ticket can be provided to assure the court Tome will return in time for his trial but Mr Pitakaka said the travel arraignments are not made by his client but by the responsible office (Prime Minister’s Office or the Opposition Office).
Public Prosecutor Bradley Dalipanda in response submitted that the application for the bail variation is pre-mature in the sense that no confirmed travel document was produced to the court.
Mr Dalipanda also earlier made an application to vacate the trial date previously fixed for May 7 through to May 25.
This was because his colleague who is the prosecutor in this matter is currently on study leave and he was just allocated with this file.
Given the short time and the fact that he will be engaged with other court matters in the month of May, he suggested a date in June or early July, to when he will be free.
But this does not go in line with the diaries of the court and the defence counsel.
Having heard submissions from both counsels, Ms Garo adjourned this matter to today to give her rulings to the two applications made in court yesterday.
Tome is facing 14 counts of conversion where he is being accused of converting $67, 170 that was supposed to be for a tree farming project in his constituency.
Prosecution alleged that on 27 June 2011, Shem Tome on behalf of the community association owned and registered as Grass Root Economic Development Community (GREDC) which was involved in tree farming or reforestation in Baegu/Asifola Constituency, submitted their application for the amount of $80,000 to their MP, Tome, through the Forestry office in Auki.
The money was meant for buying tools and materials for reforestation.
After going through some process, the Ministry of Finance approved and paid the amount of $80,000 on 24 August 2011 from the Government Account for this project.
Police investigators however, alleged Tome collected the cheque on an unknown date from the Ministry of Finance and later deposited it into his constituency account on 9 September 2011 at the ANZ bank in Honiara.
He then allegedly withdrew various amounts of money on various dates on September 2011 totalling up to $67, 170.
The money, according to the proposal, should be paid to Honiara Hardware for tools and materials in full and not for withdrawal in single cheques as the accused allegedly did.
The constituents have no idea whether or not the payment was made until a forestry officer made it known to one of them who in turn reported the matter to the police.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN