This week in court – review

This week saw a number of public interest cases dismissed, struck out or adjourned to a later date.

One significant case that got dismissed by the Supreme Court this week was the one involving the PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP).

The case got dismissed today (Friday) after Sir Mekere Morauta filed an application challenging the government’s decision to acquire shares belonging to the PNGSDP.

The court found that Sir Mekere did not have standing to bring such applications in court as a private citizen, and the correct party that should be in a court of law seeking relief in the application should the company, SDP, and not its chairman, Sir Mekere.

The application was seeking declarations from the Supreme Court to order the Ok Tedi Tenth Supplemental Agreement Act of 2013 unconstitutional and illegal.

It was substantively seeking the return of the 63.4 percent holding shares to the former board of Ok Tedi Mining Limited, the repayment of outstanding dividends and payment of compensation with interest, amongst others.

On Monday, the two-day Kandep open seat Election Petition Review hearing got adjourned to next Tuesday, Aug 23, after it was brought to the court’s attention that the consolidated review books did not contain a court transcript.

Also on the same day, the case of sexual assault against President of the PNG Teachers Association Ugwalubu Mowana was struck out at the Waigani Committal Court. This was for want of prosecution after the investigating officer failed to produce investigation files within three months.

Mowana was arrested on May 9 over allegations of sexual assault in the work place that happened some three years ago. He first appeared in court on May 12.

Tuesday this week saw the Supreme Court rule that the heads of the Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate need the approval of the Attorney-General in their legal representation to cases in court while in their capacity as police officers.

The same ruling came from two separate cases Matthew Damaru and his deputy, Timothy Gitua, were parties to. Both decisions came from objections raised in court by other parties questioning their ability to engage lawyers to act for them in the case without the approval of the Attorney-General.

The decisions came from the case SCA 7/2016, which is an appeal that originates from OS JR 485 of 2014, the judicial review into the PM’s arrest warrant issue. The other is the appeal by former Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki against his conviction and sentencing.

The week ended with the fifth accused in the Tatana shooting of January 17, last year, allowed K1,000 bail today (Friday).

33-year-old Jeffery Sheekiot of Sumusamu village, Bogia, Madang province, was arrested on July 28 in Port Moresby with willful murder.

He is alleged to be among a group of police officers who conducted a raid at Tatana village early last year whist investigating the murder of another man, the late Harold Farapo. During the raid, he, in the company of others, allegedly shot the late Saleh Naime Tom, also known as Charlie Naime.

Sally Pokiton