O’Neill’s arrest warrant trial vacated

The Judicial Review trial into the validity of warrant of arrest that was issued by the District Court on June 12, 2014 has now been vacated as per orders of the Supreme Court today.

The Supreme Court this afternoon allowed a temporary stay of the judicial review which was set to take place on March 3 at the National Court.

This is the case of the Judicial Review Proceeding that was filed by former Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki against Chief Magistrate Nerrie Eliakim over the manner in which the District Court issued the arrest warrant for Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

The judicial review proceeding filed in 2014 seeks to quash the order of the District Court when it issued the arrest warrant against PM O’Neill.

It also seeks orders that Damaru and Gitua acted without jurisdiction and Magistrate Eliakim erred in law when she issued the warrant on June 12, 2014.

The Supreme Court this afternoon also allowed the Prime Minister leave to appeal a decision of the National Court on Dec 7, 2015 when it allowed Director of the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate Matthew Damaru and his deputy Director Timothy Gitua, joiner in the Judicial Review proceeding as third defendants.

The trial set for March is now stayed pending the hearing and determination of this appeal before the Supreme Court.

The appeal at the Supreme Court was filed on grounds that Damaru and Gitua are improper respondents in the proceeding despite being allowed joinder in the Judicial Review proceeding by Justice Collin Makail in the National Court on Dec 7, 2015.

Sitting as a single Supreme Court judge, Justice Sir Bernard Sakora allowed the Prime Minister’s leave application and stayed the trial saying proper parties are an important feature of Judicial Review proceedings.

He said proper parties must be before the court as they play a paramount role in placement of costs of proceedings.

The Prime Minister’s lawyers moved the motion seeking the two orders on Feb 4.

(Picture: Loop PNG’s file picture of Mr O’Neill’s lawyers on Feb 4.)   

Sally Pokiton