Legality of PM’s arrest warrant not reviewable

The Waigani National Court has dismissed a case filed by former Police Commissioner, Geoffery Vaki, challenging the legality of the arrest warrant that was issued by the District Court against the Prime Minister in 2014.

Justice Collin Makail today said the subject of the case, the arrest warrant, was not reviewable and was an abuse of the court process.

In dismissing the judicial review, he said the criminal process and procedures should not be stopped by a civil court or proceeding.

He said the criminal process is about fairness and must ensure it is heard in a reasonable time and no miscarriage of justice.

The review was filed by Vaki, then in his capacity as the Police Commissioner on June 14, 2014, challenging the decision of the Chief Magistrate on June 12, 2014, in issuing an arrest warrant against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

During the course of the case coming for hearing, former police commissioner Vaki was replaced by Gari Baki.

The Prime Minister had allegations of official corruption leveled against him. Under that offence (section 87 of the Criminal Code), a warrant is needed for an arrest to be made.

This case was in relation to the Paraka legal bills and cost.

An application was made before the District Court by Matthew Damaru and Timothy Gitua of the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate to obtain a warrant.

The former police commissioner said the warrant was not legally obtained, alleging section 8 of the Arrest Act was not complied with by Damaru and Gitua when they obtained that arrest warrant because no information was laid to the magistrate before the warrant was issued.

Vaki filed the case in the National Court to have the warrant set aside and an independent team of detectives investigate the issue.

On July 28, 2014, leave was granted by the National Court to Vaki for a judicial review to be conducted against the decision of the Chief Magistrate on June 12, 2014.

On April 19, Justice Collin Makail heard submissions from PM O’Neill’s lawyer Mal Varitimos and Commissioner Baki’s lawyer.

The Chief Magistrate, Damaru and Gitua were not heard by the court.

Chief Magistrate Eliakim and the State are the first and second respondents.

National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate bosses, Damaru and Gitua, were previously listed as the third respondents until the Supreme Court’s decision of Sept 29, 2016, which set aside their joinder in this judicial review in the National Court on Dec 7, 2015.

Sally Pokiton