By PNG Echo.
They say that PNG is the land of the unexpected – but there is nothing unexpected about the latest decisions pertaining to Chief Superintendent Matthew Damaru and Chief Inspector Timothy Gitua of the RPNGC in what pertains to their witch hunt against the O’Neill government.
In the latest developments, Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, acting for the Attorney-General Ano Pala (who has, quite rightly, delegated authority to Kalinoe owing to a conflict of interest in this case) has refused to brief out barrister Greg Egan and Jema lawyers to represent the two policemen in the cases involving the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Finance Minister James Marape, Attorney-General Ano Pala, Police Commissioner Gari Baki, and Treasury Secretary Dairi Vele (or any cases, for that matter).
In the expected outcry by the supporters of the two rogue policemen, I have not been disappointed. This too was anticipated.
However, while my expectations and the expectations of the rogue policemen’s supporters tally, (we both expected the request to be denied) they come from a completely different understanding of justice and the rule of law.
The supporters of Damaru and Gitua want jungle justice, PNG style. They believe that the ‘bikmen’ that Damaru and Gitua have targeted are guilty and they want their heads on a plate regardless of how many principles suffer or how much anarchy and its ensuing consequences their need for retribution may trigger.
It is their argument that the government, by denying this request, is merely protecting itself and its implicated members. They claim it’s unfair.
On the surface, it may seem that way but only because these police personnel have been allowed to get away with insubordination for so long – so much so, that it has become normalised and expected that they should get away with more.
Anything is ok,with their followers as long as they deliver the bllood for which these people have been baying.
Who gave Damaru and Gitua the idea that they could act independently: that they had authority to brief these lawyers in the first place? Under whose authority were they acting? Sam Koim’s? He has no authority and is unlikely ever to get any again.
As one commentator on PNG Echo wrote:
These proceedings [various proceedings surrounding Koim] are a waste of time and money because Koim’s Task Force Sweep has no legitimate source of funding and since we should have a politically independent ICAC soon which should make Koim irrelevant although I am sure even that will not deflate his ego.
And when Damaru said, in the press, of the Acting Attorney-General’s refusal to grant his choice of lawyers
This is a major setback to all cases (in court) and investigations (into PM and others) currently underway… Taking on new representation will further delay us,
he really has only himself to blame. He should have thought about that before he decided to be a maverick. All actions have consequences, and that this gung-ho police officer failed to foresee them could be a direct result of his unbridled zealotry.
It is directly akin to all of the contempt of court charges that are now extant and threatening to hold up cases while they’re decided. The people who have allegedly committed the contempt are busy crying foul but again, they have only themselves to blame : if you don’t want contempt charges to muddy the water, stop committing contempt – it’s not rocket science, especially if you are trained in the law.
Brought back into line
The RPNGC is a disciplinary force that is hierarchical in structure. There is a definite chain of command, without which the members become vigilantes – answerable to no one. As reported in his letter to Damaru, Dr Kalinoe has reminded the police officer of this when he tells him
…the request should have come from the Police Commissioner as the head of the organisation
Damaru was advised by the Attorney-General’s Department that he and his officers were able to be represented by lawyers from the Public Solicitor’s Office – which is what the office is there for.