Saturday, July 05, 2014

PNG court dismisses police application to set aside Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's arrest warrant

PNG District Court rules against a police move to have Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's arrest warrant set aside.
Papua New Guinea's District Court has dismissed an application by the Acting Police Commissioner to have the arrest warrant against Prime Minister Peter O'Neill set aside.

The decision follows the National Court ruling earlier this week to uphold the arrest warrant as well as legal action in the Supreme Court yesterday to appeal against that judgement - an action which has been adjourned to next Thursday.
It is more than two weeks since Prime Minister O'Neill was issued with an arrest warrant after the country's anti-corruption agency Taskforce Sweep accused him of authorising fraudulent government payments worth millions of kina to local law firm, Paraka Lawyers.
PNG Correspondent Liam Cochrane told Pacific Beat that Friday's District Court ruling was consistent with the earlier National Court decision to allow Mr O'Neill's arrest warrant to stand.
In making a decision on Acting Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki's application, the judge noted that it was the responsibility of the Police Force to execute the arrest warrant.
"Regular listeners will know from our previous conversations though, that there's very little chance of that happening," Liam Cochrane said.
"The current Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki has indicated he's not going to do that and in fact gave an undertaking to the Supreme Court [on Thursday] that he would not pursue the arrest of the Prime Minister."
With consistent decisions in the District Court and the National Court, it's now up to Thursday's appeal in the Supreme Court to make a further ruling, he says.
That appeal is by Mr O'Neill himself with his lawyers appealing against the National Court decision that the arrest warrant stands.
There are two more appeals against the National Court decision - one by the Finance Minister James Marape and also by the State.

Legal action by the Police fraud squad

Meanwhile the Police fraud squad has also been in court in Port Moresby, trying to get legal backing so they are not required to hand over the file relating to the corruption investigation into Prime Minister O'Neill.
"They don't want to hand it over to the new Police Commissioner, effectively," Liam Cochrane said.
"So it's an urgent application to stop that and the judge adjourned that until Tuesday next week to hear whether they will or will not be forced to hand over [the file]."

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