Pala seeks dismissal of case in district court

Attorney General Ano Pala has filed an application in the Waigani Committal court seeking to have his case dismissed following the Supreme Court’s ruling last month.

His lawyers filed the application that will be heard next  Wednesday by Magistrate John Kaumi.

On July 21, a three-man Supreme Court bench found the arrest warrant issued by the Committal Court in June 2014 for the arrest of Pala was defective, declaring it void and of no effect.

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

Pala was arrested and charged on Nov 2, 2015 with one count of defeating the course of Justice, perverting the course of Justice and abuse of office.  He was released on K6, 000 bail the same day.

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 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 is 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 legitimize bills paid to Paul Paraka by way of declaration or taxation.”

(File picture of Pala and his lawyers outside the Committal Court.)

Sally Pokiton