Friday, April 15, 2011

Court orders stop on actions against judge


THE National Court yesterday stopped all police and lower court
actions against a recently appointed acting judge of the National and
Supreme Court, Justice Royale Thompson, The National reports.
She was hauled before the court in a matter which she discharged in
her previous role as a private lawyer acting for a foreign oil tanker,
its contents, ship's captain and its Singaporean owners.
Police alleged that Thompson had wrongly caused an advertisement to be
placed in the newspapers on Jan 14 this year stating that the oil
tanker, UBT Fjord, had not escaped but had lawfully left the country.
The advertisement claimed the UBT Fjord, with its K14 million worth of
oil content, had lawfully left the country; contrary to the state's
claims that it was officially impounded in Simpson's Harbour in Rabaul
pending legal actions against the ship's captain relating to alleged
"stealing" of the oil in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville port of
Yesterday, Justice Catherine Davani said (arresting officer and East
New Britain provincial police commander Sylvester) Kalaut's three
affidavits were "false and misleading information".
"The court must never be used by individuals for their personal
battles," Davani ruled. "Only genuine claims must be filed and
pursued. If the claims are not genuine, they should rightly be stayed
or dismissed or withdrawn or discontinued.
"This case is clearly an abuse of process where the plaintiff was
arrested on charges based on facts known to the police prosecutor, and
whoever lodged the complaint, as being incorrect and false."
Davani also pointed out that "in this case, the plaintiff (Thompson)
is an acting judge of the National Court of PNG. If this case were to
continue, it would seriously prejudice the plaintiff's continued
practice as a judge and will seriously hamper and interfere with her
day-to-day conduct of cases. It will also bring the judiciary into
"As for Supt Kalaut, he will not suffer any harm or repercussions. He
arrested the plaintiff on alleged criminal charges and he is
determined to prosecute these cases to the end," the judge ruled
Following the oil tanker's departure early this year, Kalaut flew to
Port Moresby and arrested Thompson on April 1.
Kalaut claimed that the placement of the advertisement had amounted to
an act of "perverting the course of justice".
Davani ruled in essence that the entire events leading up to the
arrest was an "abuse of process" and her final orders stated:
*The information signed by Kalaut were permanently stayed as an abuse
of process;
*The first defendant (Kalaut) shall pay the whole cost of the
proceedings, to be taxed, if not agreed;
*Bail monies of K2,000 paid by the plaintiff (Thompson) on April 1
were refunded to her, forthwith; and
*Either party was at liberty to apply, on three days notice to each
other; and time is abridged to time of settlement to take place
Prior to this decision, the two daily newspapers were barred by a
court order from publishing all matters pertaining to the case.

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