Retribution or reform?

By PNG Echo

Hon James Marape - his Supreme Court appeal granted
Hon James Marape – his Supreme Court appeal granted

A Supreme Court ruling yesterday that granted an injunction against police arresting Finance Minister, James Marape, saw a full bench of the Supreme Court tacitly endorsing the new, National-Executive-Council-appointed Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki in their deliberations.

Earlier this week, this time in the National Court, Justice Gavara-Nanu granted a permanent stay against the NEC order that disbanded the Task Force Sweep (TFS) and set up an Interim Office.

The decisions solve nothing and create two investigation bodies (men) claiming court sanctioned legitimacy.

The Police Commissioner does not agree with how Task Force Sweep has gone about prosecuting the Paraka matter (and particularly the Prime Minister’s alleged involvement) and is unlikely to co-operate with any initiatives in this matter taken by TFS.

Yet both the Police Commissioner and the Task Force Sweep are ostensibly court backed.

We have a stalemate – another potential impasse between the executive and judiciary; between politics and the law.

In my estimations “Big Man’ (traditional) politics is seeking to utilise western-style justice to effect a customary solution.  It’s a situation where even those applying the paradigm of the ethics and morals of a western style government are still looking for the customary solution of ‘payback’. Continue reading Retribution or reform?

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Magistrate Pindipia detained by fraud squad

By PNG Echo.

Port Moresby, 30 July: 10:54 pm
Magistrate Pindipia was tonight picked up by police from Appollo Restaurant, East Boroko, and taken to Fraud Squad Headquarters where he is detained and being questioned in relation to a document that ordered the release of Paul Paraka who, until the production of the controversial document, was in police custody on charges relating to a K242 million fraud.

The document that facilitated Mr Paraka’s premature release emanated from Mr Pindipia and is regarded by the investigating authorities as “highly inappropriate.”

Furthermore, a police spokesperson said that it is suspected that such orders, on the part of the magistrate, are not isolated or confined to this one incident.

Mr. Pindipia, at time of going to press, was still assisting the authorities with their investigations.

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Marape arrest stayed: Supreme Court backs Vaki.

By PNG Echo.

Supreme Court, Waigani, 30 July 2014:

Hon James Marape - his Supreme Court appeal granted
Hon James Marape – his Supreme Court appeal granted

Justice, David, Hartshorn and Sawong were today unanimous in their decision to grant Finance Minister, James Marape an interim injunction restraining his arrest by any member of the RPNGC.

The outcome was not unexpected as all four responding parties, Prime Minister, Paul Paraka, RPNGC and Independent State of PNG consented to the appeal of Finance Minister Marape for the interim injunction.

However, what was not widely foreshadowed was how strongly the divisions apparent within the ranks of the police force affected the outcome of the appeal (that in different circumstances may have been decided otherwise, according to the decision) and how the Judges, in their summation, tacitly endorsed and supported the leadership of the new Police Commissioner, Geoffrey Vaki.

We have […] heard submissions from counsel for the applicant, the Royal Constabulary, the Prime Minister and the State, which to say the least, are disturbing, distressing and saddening,

they wrote.

They went on to mention their specific concerns which included: the assault of lawyer acting for the Acting Police Commissioner (Sam Bonner) “in the precincts of this court,” the two charges brought against the Acting Police Commissioner by other police and the situation whereby the orders issued by the Acting Police Commissioner to members of the RPNGC had been ignored.

Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki, granted time needed to restore the integrity of RPNGC
Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki, granted time needed to restore the integrity of RPNGC

All this “…had created animosity and division amongst members of the police force,” the court stated, and it was agreed that the Acting Police Commissioner needed time to restore the integrity and reputation of his office and also the RPNGC generally.

It was in this context, that the court decided it had no confidence that any arrest of the Finance Minister, carried out while the RPNGC was in such a state, would be in accordance with the law and not motivated by “improper reasons” of one or more RPNGC members.

“No citizen of this country, regardless of any position that he may hold, should have to live in fear of such treatment from a supposedly disciplined force,” was the court’s final point before granting Marape’s application.

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O’Neill aggrieved, says Judge – arrest warrant stayed.

By PNG Echo

National Courts, Waigani, 18 July, 2014
The current arrest warrant on Prime Minister, O’Neill, has been stayed pending the hearing and determination of a Supreme Court reference.

A further stay on arrest warrant
A further stay on arrest warrant

This morning, Justice Gavara-Nanu after hearing arguments on behalf of the State, the Police and the Prime Minister, granted leave for Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill to judicially review the decision of the Chief Magistrate.

The Chief Magistrate, in an earlier decision in the District Court, had refused an application to allow Police Commissioner Vaki to withdraw the arrest warrant against the Prime Minister. Continue reading O’Neill aggrieved, says Judge – arrest warrant stayed.

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The Paraka case: Losing the forest amongst the trees.

By PNG Echo.

Paul Paraka - the main protagonist in the Paraka case, not the Prime Minister
Paul Paraka – the main protagonist in the Paraka case, not the Prime Minister

Although the Paraka case exposes the biggest corruption ring ever prosecuted in Papua New Guinea, lately the prosecution of just one man has taken over, to the seeming exclusion of all others – the case of the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill.  He is a huge spreading tree camouflaging the rest of the forest.

In part, this is the fault of the Prime Minister himself who has stubbornly refused to be questioned by police.

His refusal, and the machinations to avoid doing so, has divided the police force and, as in 2011, has pitted the executive against the judiciary, once again.

Looking at it from the Prime Minister’s point of view, if the allegations of political conspiracy hold any water, then to risk being put at the mercy of those who plot politically against him is folly.

However, this case is not about politics but about theft – grand theft – and one can’t help but have the sneaking suspicion that it is being used to effect political goals by those wanting to wrest power.

That the first letter, allegedly from the Prime Minister, was revealed in parliament by the opposition is indicative (and wasn’t this also the source of the second letter?) Continue reading The Paraka case: Losing the forest amongst the trees.

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No sense of irony: ACP Thomas Eluh (suspended)

By PNG Echo

Thomas Eluh - Suspended
Thomas Eluh – Suspended

The suspended senior police officer, Thomas Eluh, has released a media statement that cautions that the “[m]edia is not the right forum to discuss PM’s guilt or innocence.”

True enough, but Mr. Eluh’s media statement says so much more.

And, clearly, Mr Eluh sees no irony in a media release that attempts to censor the media – issued by someone with absolutely no authority.

The purpose of media release is to give the press publishable information, not to issue gratuitous threats. Continue reading No sense of irony: ACP Thomas Eluh (suspended)

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Courts court confusion: PMs arrest warrant.

By PNG Echo.

Chief Magistrate Ms. Nerrie Eliakim - dismissed the application
Chief Magistrate Ms. Nerrie Eliakim – dismissed the application

Chief Magistrate, Ms. Nerrie Eliakim, yesterday (July 4, 2014), dismissed an application from police to set aside an arrest warrant for the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, in the Committal Court, Waigani.

The decision of Ms Eliakim who is believed to be close to former Justice Minister and Attorney General, Kerenga Kua, will seriously undermine the authority of the newly-appointed Police Commissioner, Geoffrey Vaki and police powers.

Stated under S197 (2) of the Constitution is that the functions of the police are not only to lay and prosecute charges but also withdraw them

As it now stands, the Police Commissioner has lost his authority.

How can a police force operate effectively while subordinates are being encouraged by the courts to ignore directives from their Commissioner, who wants the arrest warrant withdrawn?

Under the circumstances, it is to be expected that the Police Commissioner will appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, in the Supreme Court, lawyers for the Prime Minister have lodged an urgent appeal against the decision of the National Court whereby the Prime Minister’s application for a stay of the arrest warrant was also dismissed.

The decision being appealed was contraindicated when all parties agreed to the stay – the court didn’t.

Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki,  will he appeal the decision?
Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki, will he appeal the decision?

However, in handing down the decision Judge Kariko also affirmed the Police Commissioner’s authority over the police force – which Magistrate Eliakim’s subsequent ruling in a lower court has undermined.

The Supreme Court has adjourned the PMs appeal until the end of next week while Ms Eliakim’s written decision will be made available on Monday 7 July…and look out for the anticipated appeal of the Police Commissioner who seems in no hurry to arrest the Prime Minister.

In the meantime the police force must be in complete disarray with no one knowing from whom they take orders.

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A lay-down misère: The PMs court case.

By PNG Echo

A winning hand

The Prime Minister played a winning hand.

In fact, so good were his cards that he had that very rare commodity in a card game – a ‘lay-down misère’.

A lay-down misère is a hand so good that it is played in full view of the other players with no risk.  It’s brazen and it’s shamelessly triumphant.

However, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Prime Minister may have ‘stacked the deck’ by removing all the opponent’s trumps (Sam Koim, ITFS, Thomas Eluh, Kerenga Kua…) with one of the last being dissenting Solicitor-General, Ms Jubilee Tindiwi.

But the Prime Minister’s winning ace was always the newly-appointed Police Chief, Geoffrey Vaki.  Vaki had been strategically placed to trump anything that the court could throw down. Continue reading A lay-down misère: The PMs court case.

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