PM O’Neill wins stay order preventing arrest

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

Papua New Guinea’s prime minister, Peter O’Neill, has successfully obtained a stay order in the Supreme Court preventing his arrest by police pending a review of the warrant issued on him.

An urgent stay application was filed following Tuesday’s decision by National Court Justice Collin Makail’s ruling that the 2014 warrant of arrest was not reviewable, the PNG Post-Courier reports.

A lawyer representing the Prime Minister, Mal Varitimos QC, appealed the matter after highlighting inconsistencies in the August 8 ruling by Justice Makail.

The trial judge judicially reviewed the three-year old stay orders of the warrant of arrest and dismissed it on the grounds that the orders were not reviewable.

Yesterday, Varitimos submitted that among the inconsistencies, Justice Makail overlooked Supreme Court binding case references relating to the matter.

The binding references relate to former Attorney General Ano Pala’s appeal against his 2014 warrant of arrest, an order by the District Court where the Supreme Court upheld it saying it was reviewable by the National Court.

In a 2014 decision of the five-men bench of the supreme court considering the power, functions, duties and responsibilities of the commissioner of police, it ruled a warrant of arrest was amendable as opposed to Justice Makail’s ruling.

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Arrest warrant challenged
It considered the question of whether the commissioner of police had a sufficient standing to seek leave for judicial review of the decision to use the warrant of arrest that is subject to the current challenge.

The submission by Varitimos was that the binding references were erroneously over-looked and as a result Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia granted the stay orders.

The PNG Post-Courier also reports police commissioner Gari Baki will be inviting O’Neill for an interview in light of Justice Makail’s ruling on August 8.

“As Commissioner of Police, I welcome the decision of the court as it now paves the way for us to move forward on this matter.

“Since the Court decision I have had consultations with my senior officers on the case and as the Commissioner of Police, myself, to invite the Prime Minister to come in for an interview.

“I want the people of Papua New Guinea to appreciate that this is a very sensitive and delicate matter involving the Prime Minister of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

“The interview is not a requirement by law but an existing and established protocol the constabulary has engaged over the years for leaders and high profile people,” Baki said.

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