Pala’s case dismissed in District Court

A case against Attorney-General Ano Pala has been dismissed by the Waigani Committal Court today.

The case in which Pala was arrested and charged for on Nov 2, 2015, with one count of defeating the course of justice, perverting the course of justice and abuse of office, was dismissed today.

All three counts involve allegations that he tried to prevent the course of justice when he consented to a stay application to stop the arrest of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for official corruption on June 17, 2014.

The case was formally dismissed from the Committal Court today by Magistrate John Kaumi following a Supreme Court ruling on July 21.

The Supreme Court then found that the arrest warrant of the Attorney General was invalid and quashed the criminal charges he is facing at the District Court. 

The central element of each of the three charges is on instructions he gave as the Attorney General to the Solicitor General on June 17, 2014. It was part of his function and within his powers to instruct the Solicitor General to attend the National Court proceeding on June 18, 2014, and apply to have the State joined as a party in a proceeding (OS 115).

The high court found the information laid that saw the warrant of arrest issued by the District Court was defective as it did not state the date on which it was laid and also did not state the name of the magistrate who issued it.

Justice Higgins, in reading the decision on July 21, said a magistrate cannot issue a warrant of arrest unless satisfied there are reasonable grounds that the person in question has committed an offense.

He said the warrant must allege an offense known to law.

“In this case, the act alleged is filing proceeding in OS 115 of 2014. This is not an unlawful act. Indeed it is an act incapable of being a criminal act.

“The purpose of filing is alleged to be to legitimise bills paid to Paul Paraka by way of declaration or taxation.”

(Pala and his lawyer, Ralph Saulep, outside the Committal Court today.)

Sally Pokiton