Thursday, March 08, 2012

Judges to meet over arrest of Chief Justice


JUDGES of the National and Supreme Court are expected today to meet in Port Moresby to discuss among other things, the arrest and charging of Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, The National reports. Advice went out from the office of court registrar, Ian Augerea, for all judges in the provinces to fly in yesterday for the meeting.
Also yesterday, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia briefly appeared at the Waigani Committal Court for mention following a charge against him of perverting the course of justice.
Sir Salamo appeared before magistrate Cosmos Bidar and stood in the witness dock when his charges were read to him.
The court adjourned the matter to May 7 to give time to the prosecution to prepare evidence.
Sir Salamo was released on his own recognisance after he was arrested by police on his way to the chambers on Tuesday morning and taken
for questioning at the police headquarters.
Police alleged that Sir Salamo disobeyed a court order and illegally redirected a payment of K213,000, which was meant for the adopted son of the late Justice Timothy Hinchliffe, to the court’s trust account.
They alleged that Sir Salamo and others had “conspired” and ignored a National Court order of 2009 issued by former judge, Justice Mark Sevua, ordering the National Judicial Staff Services to pay Hinchliffe’s entitlements to Hinchliffe’s adopted son Timothy Morere Sari Junior.
However, the payment was instead redirected to the court’s trust account on Sir Salamo’s instruction.
Police alleged that the actions of the chief justice to circumvent a valid order of the court were contemptuous and criminal in nature.
Police, therefore, carried out investigations and made the arrest.
All National and Supreme Court matters listed for hearing before Sir Salamo yesterday were deferred to tomorrow.
Matters before other judges were understood to be deferred as well.
Opposition leader Dame Carol Kidu said the implications of the action could shake the very foundation of government in PNG.
She was reported on ABC as saying: “It had better be pretty sound reasons for this, I think, for the sake of Papua New Guinea if they are going to be questioning the head of the judiciary.
“Because that does shake the very foundation of our democracy and our separation of powers.”
Former chief justice Sir Arnold Amet was also reported as saying that the timing of arrest and charging of Sir Salamo “smacked of being politically-driven” and the arrest of Sir Salamo by armed police was “heavy-handed”.
Sir Arnold, a member of the Sir Michael Somare faction, said the government’s handling of the matter was most inappropriate

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