Cult leader in court

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier/October 11, 2007

Madang cult leader Steven Tari is expected to enter a plea before the National Court next Monday.

Tari, who is of mixed Morobe and Manus parentage, has been charged with seven counts of sexual penetration.

The matter went before Justice David Cannings, who is on a 20-day court circuit in Madang, for mention last Wednesday, but had to be adjourned for a week because Tari did not have a lawyer.

At yesterday's appearance the court heard again that he still did not have a lawyer to represent him. When asked by Justice Cannings if he wanted a lawyer from the Public Solicitors Office to assist him with his case, he accepted.

Tari was read the charges laid against him before being asked by the judge whether he would be able to give the court an indication on his likely plea.

He replied: "Those women were flower-girls and this was the work of the minister and permitted by the religion. And I don't know if the charges laid against me are wrong or right," he said.

He was told by Justice Cannings that a lawyer, and not the judge, was the best person whom he could get advise from regarding his queries.

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