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PNG Electoral Commissioner detained for breach
11:16 pm GMT+12, 05/12/2019, Fiji

Papua New Guinea's Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato spent last night in a cell at the Boroko police station after a court ordered that he be detained for breaching the conditions of his bail granted last month.

Magistrate Ernest Wilmot granted an application by the police prosecution to have that bail for K3,000 (US$882), granted on 18 Oct, forfeited because Gamato had subsequently interfered with three State witnesses.

“This court considers the breach extremely blatant. The accused is an office holder, an educated man and a man of higher regard,” Wilmot said.

“The actions of the accused is to obviously intimidate and interfere. He exercised his powers to oppress those he saw as persons behind his arrest. These actions are quite serious indeed.”

He ordered that Gamato be remanded at the Bomana Prison, before adjourning the case to 18 Dec.

But last night at around 9pm, Gamato was still at the Boroko police station with the Electoral Commission lawyer Alice Kimbu.

Gamato, 53, from Sapa village in Huon Gulf, Morobe is facing charges of official corruption, dealing with criminal property and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Since his bail was granted on 18 Oct, police alleged that the following events took place:

Oct 21: Alwynn Jimmy, the current Provincial Election Manger for Southern Highlands stated that Gamato had instructed the EC Human Resource Manger to liaise with the Department of Personnel Management about advertising his (Jimmy’s) position.

David Wakias who was the (then) Election Manager for Southern Highlands, stated in his affidavit that Gamato had perpetrated his arrest to interrupt his (Gamato) court proceedings. On Oct 28: Wakias alleged that Gamato had him arrested for unlawful use of a motor vehicle even though the vehicle was given to him by former Commissioner Andrew Trawen for official use during the 2017 general election.

On Nov 1, Aida Sampson stated (in an affidavit) that Gamato had removed her from her position for no good reason. She had received a revocation letter written by Gamato ordering her removal.

Magistrate Wilmot said they were “serious allegations and bail can be revoked if there are sufficient grounds”. 

Wilmot ordered Gamato’s bail revoked and ordered that he be taken into custody.

Commission lawyer Alice Kimbu requested that the court order be extended to today (Friday). But police prosecutor Sgt Joseph Sangam objected saying she should seek appropriate orders from the higher court.

“It is not for this court to stay its own orders,” he said.

Gamato was then taken to the Boroko police station to be transferred to Bomana.


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