Justice Colin Makail errs (again)

By PNG Echo

CourtA three-man bench of the Supreme Court, earlier today, unanimously overturned a National Court decision by Justice Colin Makail to join police officers Gitua and Damaru to the judicial review of Chief Magistrate, Nerrie Eliakim’s decision to grant an arrest warrant against Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill.

Justices Kandakasi, Hartshorn and Kassman  found that Justice Makail was wrong and had fallen into error in granting Damaru and Gitua, as members of the police force, leave to act outside of their chain of command in joining them, independently, to the judicial review.

In their judgment they affirmed that:

The proper person to be a party to a judicial review proceeding on behalf of the Police Force …is the Police Commissioner.

And the Police Commissioner was already a party to these proceeding.

The bench were troubled by Mr Damaru’s admission that his and the interests of the Police Commissioner were different ”

because he wanted the arrest warrant executed but the Police Commissioner did not.

The learned judges gave their binding legal opinion that a police officer is not entitled to execute a warrant against the wishes of the Police Commissioner by way of a court proceeding.

Clearly, this bench of the Supreme Court would not entertain the courts being used in this manner by maverick police officers.

They went on:

Further, that a police officer wishes to execute an arrest warrant against the wishes or orders of the Police Commissioner raises issues as to why that Police Officer is of that view and believes he has such a particular interest in executing the warrant that he seeks court enforcement, against the position taken by the Police Commissioner.

I have a theory on that: could it be that their successes in the courts of Justice Colin Makail have led them into that error – that his errors have been instrumental in fostering the belief that the zealotry and insubordination of these officers is a reasoned response? The Supreme Court begs to differ.

Stay tuned: tomorrow, I will explore that theory further

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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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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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Koim’s Poison Chalice

A chalice is a ceremonial cup, often bearing a drink that confers upon the drinker a blessing – as in the Christian Eucharist. Traditionally, when someone received a chalice it was in connection with the gaining of high status – it is used in modern times as a metaphor for achieving a high and prestigious office – but what if that chalice does not carry the expected blessing but instead contains poison, asks PNG Echo?

Was the chalice always poisoned?
Was Sam Koim’s golden chalice always poisoned?

It’s no picnic fighting corruption in PNG; just ask Sam Koim.

Koim’s fall from official favour (if not public grace) has been swift and it’s been brutal. In one fell swoop he’s gone from being the investigator to the investigated.

But is anyone really surprised – least of all Koim himself?

When the position of Head of the Independent Task Force Sweep was filled by Sam Koim, he was a Principal Legal Officer at the Office of the Solicitor-General (a relatively junior position).

Mr Koim, who would have been barely 30 years old, at the time and a relatively inexperienced lawyer was being tasked with a huge job. In many cases the people he would be investigating would be the very people to whom he would report. How was that ever going to work?

It was naïve to expect that this glittering chalice that raised Koim up from relative obscurity into the international spotlight to be feted in the halls of such illustrious institutions as Cambridge University came without a price. Continue reading Koim’s Poison Chalice

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