28 Jun 2005

PNG works minister probed over alleged misconduct in office

4:10 pm on 28 June 2005

A senior minister in the Papua New Guinean government is facing prosecution over alleged misconduct in office.

The Ombudsman Commission has referred the works minister, Gabriel Kapris, to the Public Prosecutor over his alleged failure to consult the National Forest Board on the appointment of a new head of the National Forest Service.

The referral relates to alleged breaches of the Forestry Act when Mr Kapris was caretaker forests minister in 2002 before he was appointed works minister by the prime minister, Sir Michael Somare.

The chief ombudsman, Ila Geno, says Mr Kapris also was alleged to have lied to the governor-general by advising him he had consulted the National Forest Board over the appointment of David Nelson as managing director of the forest service.

Mr Nelson was later suspended after allegedly issuing logging permits in breach of the Forestry Act.

The Public Prosecutor has the discretion to bring proceedings against Mr Kapris under PNG's Leadership Code for alleged misconduct in office.