- News Feature : Three issues that will shape PNG politics from 2020 to 2022 [19/02/2020 - Papua New Guinea]
- Business News : Fiji Civil Aviation Minister clarifies purpose of Waqavuka Financing Limited [19/02/2020 - Fiji]
- News : Fiji PM meets with President of Israel, Discusses areas of bilateral co-operation [19/02/2020 - Fiji]
- News : European Union white-lists Marshall Islands [19/02/2020 - Marshall Islands]
- Sports News : IOC Coates "satisfied" Tokyo 2020 will be safe to attend amid coronavirus outbreak [19/02/2020 - Japan]
- Sports News : NZ Rugby to appoint first Pasifika engagement manager [19/02/2020 - New Zealand]
- Sports News : Samoa Rugby Union reappoint CEO for four years [19/02/2020 - Samoa]
- News : $4.5million for by-election in Solomon Islands [19/02/2020 - Solomon Islands]
- News : Israel President Rivlin lands in Fiji [19/02/2020 - Fiji]
- News : MP attacks decision to reject Samoans [19/02/2020 - Samoa]
- News : Solomon Islands Opposition concern over USD$100 billion loan [19/02/2020 - Solomon Islands]
- News Feature : EU provides EURO 3 million to strengthen health security in the Pacific [19/02/2020 - Fiji]
- Sponsored : Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC)
Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna and Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown have both pleaded not guilty to four separate charges each over a jet charter row.
The matter was brought before Justice of the Peace John Whitta Friday.
Puna and Brown have both been charged on two counts each for conspiracy by default and two counts each for improper payment of public funds.
The complaints were filed by a former Democratic Party member Teokotai George, who alleges a charter flight was not used for a medical emergency but for political purposes, in the days after the 2018 election.
Puna and Brown allegedly participated in a scheme to bring newly-elected MPs from Pukapuka and Penrhyn by chartering a jet aircraft for about $32,000 (US$20, 479), “by fraudulently using public funds”.
The fund was for the emergency evacuation of sick patients, the court papers alleged, “when no such emergency existed”.
The second charge relates to “procuring for themselves and the Cook Islands Party the improper payment of $32,000 of public money” for the same charter flight.
Lawyer Tim Arnold is acting for Brown; lawyer Ben Marshall is acting for Puna.
Marshall entered not guilty pleas for both Puna and Brown, and said they preferred a judge-alone trial.
Private prosecutor Norman George said the penalty for the charges was fines, and not imprisonment.
All matters were transferred to the High Court where the trial is expected to be held on 23 March, before Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams QC.
SOURCE: COOK ISLANDS NEWS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
Media Helping Media