By JAYNE SAFIHAO, The National
In a day of drama in court, Kapris broke from 13 other suspects arraigned on similar charges, and pleaded guilty to one count of robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit a robbery.
But he pleaded not guilty to 13 counts of kidnapping, 14 counts of deprivation of liberty, and one count of receiving stolen property. The others pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The courtroom in the afternoon was thrown into confusion yesterday when Kapris’ lawyer David Dotaona sought an application to have his client’s matter heard separately after the guilty plea for the two charges was taken.
With Kapris taking his seat first in the witness box, he entertained the courtroom by giving conflicting pleas to Justice David Cannings.
Kapris initially said “yes” when asked by Cannings if he had committed the offences in the 28 counts.
He then had a quick glance across to his lawyer, and changed the answer to “no”.
Dotaona immediately stood to ask leave to speak to his client. After a brief whisper, Kapris said he was sticking with the not guilty plea for the 28 counts.
Earlier in the morning, Dotaona had asked Cannings to allow a two-week extension for him and his client to properly prepare for the defence, but this was refused.
Cannings emphasised that any extension was an unnecessary waste of time and very costly for the state.
“I have considered the cost to the state, the people of PNG having to prepare and get the matter to trial and the security measures in place,” he said.
“I consider it to be in the public interest for the trial to proceed.
“I want a fair trial in an independent court.
“I refuse the application for the two-week extension. The trial will begin now,” he ruled.
It was likely that Kapris could become a state witness despite pleading not guilty to the 27 other charges.
Cannings, when deliberating on the likelihood of having a separate trial, said: “There was no indication given to me during pre-trial. This is a new development.
“I will consider the depositions put ... since he has pleaded guilty, and not being convicted yet ... you want the others to go to trial before another judge?
“I will have to adjourn,” he said as he pondered over the matter.
The Madang BSP robbery occurred on July 5, 2008, when a total of K2,407,315.35 was stolen.
During the robbery, a number of bank workers were allegedly kidnapped and detained in a hotel.
Meanwhile, the court was also advised by Correctional Services officers that Don Aka, Elijah Paul Kapis or Elijah Tinga and Ben Nom, who is also known as “Toi Apet”, were still at large after breaking out of the Bomana prison on Jan 12.
The hearing continues today.