Who is really defeating the course of justice?

By PNG Echo

Ano+Pala
Attorney General, Ano Pala – arrest warrant quashed.

Attorney General, Ano Pala, has today had the warrant of arrest, extant since July 2014, quashed by a unanimous three-man bench of the Supreme Court – consisting of Justices Higgins, Sawong and Batari.

The warrant had been sworn out by Magistrate Cosmas Bidar at the behest of Police Officer, Matthew Damaru.

The charge leveled was ‘defeating the course of justice’ in conspiracy with others including the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Geoffrey Vaki and their respective counsels notwithstanding that most of these people were not a party to the proceedings at the time. The quashing of the arrest warrant means that the conspiracy charges are also not recognised.

Pala’s alleged sin, in the eyes of Detective Chief Superintendent Damaru, was to apply for the State to be joined to a matter wherein the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister had filed proceedings to legitimize (or not) bills paid by the state to Paul Paraka Lawyers by way of a declaration of taxation.

Paul Paraka, becoming a peripheral comncern in the saga that bears his name.
Paul Paraka, becoming a peripheral comncern in the saga that bears his name.

This is a most important question because if the Paraka bills are legitimate then no offence has been committed.

It is a way of getting to the truth – proof of a crime should be at the very beginning of an investigation (clearly no one has told this to Task-Force Sweep or the Fraud Squad.)

The truth is something that Police Officer, Matthew Damaru patently did not want to get in the way of a good witch hunt

I mean, how could trying to ascertain the truth be an attempt to defeat the course of justice?

Indeed, the three learned judges ascertained that Pala’s filing of proceedings

…is an act incapable of being a criminal act.

Further, they emphasized their ruling was timely (and lucky for some) as had Pala been arrested and denied his liberty, he would have had ample cause for redress.

Mikail overruled

One of the alleged co-conspirators - Geoffrey Vaki
One of the alleged co-conspirators – Geoffrey Vaki

With this decision, the Supreme Court overruled the previous decision of Justice Colin Makail in the National Court that dismissed Pala’s petition saying he had no standing to bring proceedings until after he was arrested.

Think about it: what’s the point of trying to quash an arrest warrant after its already been effected? But that’s what Justice Makail, in his wisdom decided – yes it baffles me too.

But it was not only that the charges were specious that caught the attention of the learned Judges but also the manner in which the arrest warrant was effected.

The faulty warrant

Magistrate Cosmas Bidar
Magistrate Cosmas Bidar who signed off on the arrest warrant

The Judges maintained that

…the warrant ha[d] received such little attention that the learned magistrate [Bidar] did not even choose whether the subject was “him or “her”.

The judgment went on:

It does not appear that any grounds were suggested to the magistrate… [although] …[t]he need to consider alternative grounds is mandatory.

Yet, even had the magistrate considered the grounds (which the bench found he hadn’t) apparently ”

None of the grounds for considering arrest referred to…could reasonably have been believed to justify the arrest of the applicant.

And so the witch hunt continues.

Deputy Secretary (Treasury) Mr Aloysius Hamou
Deputy Secretary (Treasury) Mr Aloysius Hamou – exonerated – onlly doing his job

This is the second ruling this week that has found that the actions of the Fraud Squad have been cavalier.

For two years the Attorney General has had this charge hanging over his head – just because he lawfully sought the truth.

And then there’s the Deputy Secretary of Treasury, Mr Aloysius Hamou – described by all his work colleagues as a true and faithful public servant – who was sacrificed to the zealotry of these rogue elements in the Police Force who have become a law unto themselves.

He was also exonerated, found to be only doing his job in the purchase of the Israeli turbines matter – in fact, had he not obeyed the lawful directive from the NEC he would have been up on disciplinary charges.

I’m told Mr Hamou doesn’t enjoy the best of health, this episode, for an honest, fine and upstanding man, such as he, must have added a considerable amount of stress to his life, not to mention the loss of reputation.

When is someone going to stop these people?

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No rogue police: Kalinoe wants hierarchy respected

By PNG Echo.

Police officers Damaru and Gitua, halted in their tracks.
Police officers Damaru and Gitua

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.

Jungle Justice

Attorney General a=says "no" to a re-engagement of this legal representation
Attorney General says “no” to a re-engagement of this legal representation

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

Kalinoe-on-Sanctioning-Prostitution-media
Dr Lawrence Kaliinoe, Acting Attorney-General

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.

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Overruled and overturned – The courts previous findings for Damaru and Gitua.

By PNG Echo

Appellant: Minister for Finance - James Marape
Appellant: Minister for Finance – James Marape

Rulings handed down today today by a full bench of the Supreme Court (Justices Hartshorn, Sawong and Makail) have dismissed an objection by Police Officers Gitua and Damaru to an appeal by Minister James Marape arising from a National Court decision and have, furthermore, reversed a ruling of single-sitting Supreme Court Judge, Justice Kirriwom, thus upholding the appeal of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Minister James Marape and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

In the first-mentioned matter, an appeal had been lodged against the National Court’s ruling that refused an application by government and police lawyers for interlocutory orders by consent, restraining police from arresting Minister Marape and the Prime Minister.

Messrs Gitua and Damaru were objecting to the competency of the appeal.

A full bench of the Supreme Court ruled:

In our view all of the objections of the objectors’ [Damaru and Gitua] do not question this court’s jurisdiction to hear the appeal and do not go to the competency of the appeal but rather questions as to the merits of the appeal. Consequently the objection to competency should be dismissed.

In the second matter, the appeal was against Justice Kirriwom’s ruling that police officer’s Gitua and Damaru should be allowed to choose and engage their preferred counsel – in this case, Jema Lawyers and barrister Greg Egan.

Instructions from Attorney General Ano Pala needed to engage lawyers on behalf of the state and state employees.
Instructions from Attorney General Ano Pala needed to engage lawyers on behalf of the state and state employees.

The court determined that as police officers, Damaru and Gitua were required to obtain approval from the Attorney General to engage lawyers to act on their behalf in this proceeding and that Justice Kirriwom had erred in drawing the opposing conclusion.

An interim order restraining the police officers from engaging or instructing lawyers was granted and it was ordered that each party (both the Attorney General and the police officers) make the applications and appointments necessary for legal representation of Damaru and Gitua in this matter.

In both cases costs were awarded against Damaru and Gitua.

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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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Nature hates a vacuum: The potential demise of Peter O’Neill

By PNG Echo

Papua New Guinea has entered very dangerous political waters.

6161009The courts were aware of this when they cautioned restraint after the hearing to stay the arrest warrant of Peter O’Neill. –

Yet both sides are going about, willy nilly, doing the very things that they were cautioned against and which may just land them with a contempt of court charge?

Disgraced  former Police Commissioner Sir Tom Kulunga
Disgraced former Police Commissioner Sir Tom Kulunga

The retired Police Commissioner, Sir Tom Kulunga, was recently convicted of contempt and received a sentence of seven months hard labour.   Not even this has deterred them.

The Prime Minister’s actions are easily explainable – he’s fighting for his very existence.

He’s using political manoeuvring to stack the deck for when he next appears in court. Continue reading Nature hates a vacuum: The potential demise of Peter O’Neill

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The machinations of power: The Prime Minister’s arrest warrant

By PNG Echo

6161009
Hon Peter O’Neill, the besieged Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill’s case to stay an arrest warrant has been adjourned until 25th

The adjournment was in response to the newly-appointed Police Commissioner Vaki informing the court that he consented to the stay and the seeking of consent orders to that effect.

The judge was not convinced of the legality of the move and declined to sanction the consent orders which would also restrain police hierarchy from interfering with junior police investigation (pending the taxation audit) unless he was convinced (by the police lawyer Mawa) that he had the power to interfere with the police functions. 

He gave him until the 25th to file submissions when the matter is due to be back before the courts.  Interim orders stay until then – there will be no arrests in that time.
Continue reading The machinations of power: The Prime Minister’s arrest warrant

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