Private lands officer’s case moved March 31


PRINCIPAL Magistrate Felix Hollison has adjourned the case of a Private Land acquisition officer to March 31 for setting of trial date.

Yesterday the case was mentioned via zoom and a pre-trial conference was conducted orally before the court.

Magistrate Hollison said the trial date will be set when the presiding magistrate resumes work in the coming weeks, therefore he adjourned the case for 28 days.

The accused Laury Penrose Palmer of Western Province is charged for with Corrupt Practices, contrary to section 374 (c) of the Penal Code

He was alleged of falsifying land documents when he was appointed as a Land Acquisition Officer (LAO) by the Commissioner of Lands to acquire the customary lands of West Rennell for Mining in February 2015.

Prosecution alleged that Penrose at the capacity of a servant, willfully and with intent to defraud his employer, the Commissioner of lands and produced an acquisition report which contains some false information dated October 2 2014, which to his knowledge is intended to mislead his employer, the Commissioner of lands by claiming that he had posted notices of the acquisition hearing at Labagu, Teabamagu, Tigoa, Matahenua and at Kagua producing Land title documents which claimed to be agreed and signed by Joseph Taupongi.

Prosecution alleged that all the documents produced by the accused was falsified.

The purpose of the acquisition is to allow Asia Pacific Investment & Development Limited (APID) to commence their mining operation.

It is further alleged that during the acquisition process, it is alleged that he appoints, Dictor Maitaki (ward 5), Joseph Taupongi (ward 3) to which he strongly denied, Sylvanias Kaipua (ward 4) and William Tino (ward 6) to be the respective trustees of the West Rennell Customary Land and produced an acquisition report to the Commissioner of Land.

Steward Tonowane of the Public Prosecution’s Office appears for the crown while Whitlam Togamae Law firm is representing the accused.

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