Court sets aside cops' joinder in PM’s warrant case

The Supreme Court has set aside an order of the National Court which allowed the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate heads joinder in the Prime Minister’s arrest warrant case.

A three-man Supreme Court bench allowed an appeal by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and set aside the joinder of Matthew Damaru and Timothy Gitua in the judicial review proceeding that was filed by Geoffrey Vaki in his capacity as the Police Commissioner (then) in 2014.

Justices Derek Hartshorn, Stephen Kassman, and Ambeng Kandakasi in a unanimous decision found that the National Court judge fell into error when he allowed the joinder of the two on Dec 7,2015.

Justice Hartshorn in delivering the decision today said if necessary Damaru and Gitua can be called to give evidence in court and it does not require them to be parties.

“It is important to remember that the judicial proceeding, the subject of this appeal concerns the decision of the Chief Magistrate. It does not concern the decision of either both (Damaru and Gitua) to initiate a criminal proceeding or their decision to apply for an arrest warrant,” the judges found.

This now means that Damaru and Gitua are no longer parties in the judicial review filed by Vaki in 2014.

The ruling today comes after the same court on Aug 25 upheld an objection by Vaki’s lawyers that the two were not proper parties before the court as they require approval by the Attorney General to engage private counsels to represent them.

Vaki filed the Judicial review challenging the validity of the warrant of arrest that was issued by the District Court against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in June 2014. It listed Chief Magistrate Nerrie Eliakim as the first respondent.

A warrant of arrest was issued by Chief Magistrate Nerrie Eliakim on June 12,2014 for the Prime Minister’s arrest.

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 Dec 2,2015, Gari Baki joined in the case as Vaki had ceased to hold office as commissioner and Damaru and Gitua were allowed joinder on Dec 7,2015 by Justice Collin Makail.

Justice Makail on Dec 7 last year said in his ruling that both cops have an interest in the matter with an undisputed fact that Gitua was instrumental in taking that arrest warrant out against the Prime Minister last year. 

He added that Damaru is directly affected by the Chief Magistrate’s decision which is the subject of the proceeding. The Supreme Court found otherwise today.

(Pictured is the Prime Minister’s lawyer Mal Varitimos, left, after the court’s decision today.) 




Sally Pokiton