That fraud case: Impartiality of the judiciary is in question
26 December 2017
KUNDIAWA - The Supreme Court’s decision quashing the arrest warrant for prime minister Peter O’Neill relating to an alleged fraudulent payment of K78 million to Paul Paraka Lawyers, a case that spanned three years, has not gone down well with many Papua New Guineans.
Many people are expressing dissatisfaction with the decision both on social media and in private gatherings.
What is in question is the very impartiality of the justice system.
Prior to the decision, chief justice Sir Salamo Injia had been photographed happily chatting with O’Neill in the grandstand of Sir John Guise Stadium during a November World Rugby League Cup match.
The photo went viral on social media as people talked about it and expected the court’s decision to be in O’Neill’s favour, which happened.
Irrespective of whether O’Neill and Sir Salamo discussed the pending case during the rugby match or elsewhere, it was a case of whether justice was seen to be done.
The fact that the head of the judiciary, who had sat on a one man bench for a stay order application by O’Neill, ordered the arrest warrant be reviewed by the Supreme Court raised serious question of judicial ethics and integrity.
On Facebook, many people expressed the ethical impropriety of Sir Salamo beign seen with O’Neill in such circumstances. After all, this was a fraud case involving tens of millions of kina of public funds.
The quashing of the arrest warrant was based on a number of technical errors which did not go to the substance of the alleged crime.
A court document obtained and posted in part on Facebook by Madang MP Bryan Kramer showed the fraud case to remain live and able to be resurrected by the Fraud Squad if it wants to do so.
Given the allegiance between the Police Commissioner Gary Baki and O’Neill, and an unusual vetting process engineered by Baki, the chances of the case seeing the light of day again seem very slim.
What baffles most people is that the case took three years to reach a technical dead end, costing the state millions of kina in legal fees. Surely these petty technical errors which could have been rectified a long time ago had the Police Fraud Squad been informed.
Or was there some other hidden force that influenced the court to make its decision? This is the question many people are asking.
In the eyes of Papua New Guineans, the judiciary has been corrupted and compromised like other law enforcement agencies before it.
People look up to the judiciary as their last bastion of hope in the fight against corruption and if this is infected and infested, people may take the law into their own hands.
What has been occurring in the Southern Highlands Province, where there is a continuing revolt against the state, could easily spread to other provinces.
Peter O'Neill is using political influence to protect his personal interest by suppressing law in the country
Posted by: Jimmy awagl | 28 December 2017 at 10:36 AM
Mathias. You speak long time b'fore, Time b'long all Tabuna, Big men true.
Me been savy long Yawe Yawe Moses 1960's Chuave.
Now Big Man, alsame Maus wara, Gammon, $ sign in eye.
Posted by: William Dunlop | 28 December 2017 at 09:59 AM
Mr Dunlop, highland bigman is not quite stret as O'Neill is playing touch footy now.
He is mixed race PNG-Australia who had never really lived an adult life back home in Pangia to understand the real values of village leadership and roles played by these men of greatness.
I see O'Neill as a greedy and selfish man who can be compared to other figures in history like Mugabe, Idi Amin, Hitler, Mussolini etc.
Posted by: Mathias Kin | 27 December 2017 at 07:50 PM
The rorting just didn't start with O'Neill.
All same fashion b'long bigman.
Posted by: William Dunlop | 26 December 2017 at 04:19 PM
The judiciary is no longer neutral. Members of the court may be influenced to take sides.
The technical errors were simple spelling mistakes which took the courts three years to arrive at a decision.
Independence was spelt 'indipendence' and that's the reason the case was thrown out.
The substantive issue is still there: did O'Neill sign and therefore authorise a payment of K72 million to Paraka Lawyers, and did he benefit in any way from this himself?
Obviously a village court magistrate would see that the substantive is much more important then a spelling error.
This again reinforces our belief in PNG that there are two set of laws, one for O'Neill and his people and another for us the ordinary people.
It is indeed no wonder PNG is rated one of the most corrupt nations of the world.
Posted by: Mathias Kin | 26 December 2017 at 08:38 AM
I agree with you Francis.
From where I'm sitting this looks like the beginning of the end of the separation of powers in PNG.
If this is the case it is a prelude to dictatorship.
I'd be very worried if I was a Papua New Guinean.
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 26 December 2017 at 08:13 AM