NEWSDESK | Pacific Media Centre | Edited extracts
AUCKLAND - Embattled Papua New Guinean lawyer Paul Paraka has challenged the government with a lawsuit citing a section of the constitution never previously used for “breaching his citizen rights”, the PNG Post-Courier reports.
Mr Paraka has applied to the courts alleging a breach of Section 23 of the PNG Constitution that, if proven, could imprison ministers, members of the anti-corruption Task Force Sweep, heads of state agencies and banks for up to 10 years.
Reporter Jeffrey Elapa says he is seeking hundreds of millions of kina in damages against the state, its agents and the individuals involved.
Mr Paraka, who once owned one of the biggest law firms in PNG, said it was now his time to “declare war” on the state by seeking damages and justice from the court.
He said he is seeking orders to invalidate all actions of the National Executive Council (Cabinet) and Task Force Sweep and seeks extensive damages and compensation for the total loss of his business.
In 2013, Mr Paraka was arrested and charged by the now discarded Task Force Sweep in relation to the payment of legal costs by the state which were claimed to have been paid unlawfully.
Paraka Lawyers had branches in all 22 provinces, close to 2,000 employees and headquarters occupying three floors of the Mogoru Moto Building in Port Moresby.
Mr Paraka said his company undertook over 6,000 legal briefs for the state for a period of seven years from 2000, resulting in more than 30,000 legal invoices rendered to the state and paid.
He said the payments which are the subject of the allegations were properly and lawfully authorised for payment by the former Attorney-General and Solicitor-General. A National Court Order also authorised the payments.
Mr Paraka said as a result of the proceedings against him he was “destroyed badly” and went through “one of the hardest times in life” and is now seeking justice to get his business and his money back and to clear his name.