PNG court rejects sex case accused MP’s bid to gag media

Accused Goroka MP Aiye Tambua
Accused Goroka MP Aiye Tambua . . . told by the magistrate: “I advocate for media freedom." Image: The Sunday Bulletin

By Boura Goru Kila in Port Moresby

A Papua New Guinea court application to stop the news media from reporting on an alleged sexual offence incident involving Goroka MP Aiye Tambua has been thrown out.

Magistrate Paul Puri Nii, sitting in the Waigani Committal Court, refused the application by Tambua’s lawyer yesterday, saying media freedom was everybody’s freedom.

“People won’t kill you,” Nil told the MP.

“You are a leader, and you are subject to critics [sic]. For me, I am not going to bar the media.

“Being a magistrate, being a judge, being a leader, you are subject to critics, and that’s nothing. That’s going to either correct you or lead you in the wrong direction. But it’s up to you.

“I advocate for media freedom so I think that [for that] aspect of the motion, I will refuse it.”

Nii said the media were “the ears and the eyes of people” and that was why he advocated for media freedom.

Allowed to travel
The magistrate granted the motion seeking orders to allow Tambua, 45, to travel out of Port Moresby, but said he had to return before May 9, which was the next court appearance date.

Tambua, through his lawyer Edward Sasingian, filed a motion seeking orders to:

  • ALLOW the defendant to continue to travel out of Port Moresby; and
  • RESTRICT the media from reporting on the case on the basis that the media has caused repercussions on the defendant and the victims.

Sasingian also informed the court that he had served a copy of the motion on the prosecution and both had agreed on the position to restrict media until a determination is made in the committal proceedings.

He referred to a District Court decision which barred the media from reporting, but Nii said: “For me, I advocate media freedom. Other magistrates may bar the media but this is court room two, my court, so media has the freedom to report.”

Report on facts
Nii also urged media to report on facts.

“If you want to report on the matter, come to the courts, get the court files and report on the matter,” he said.

Tambua’s case was adjourned until May 9, for further mention, after the prosecution informed the court that police were still doing investigations to establish the allegations and produce a brief.

The MP, from Goroka’s Massy village, Eastern Highlands, was alleged to have committed the sexual offences on the three victims (all family members) on different occasions over a period of time.

Tambua is facing 26 charges and had his bail extended.

Boura Goru Kila is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.

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