BRYAN KRAMER MP
PORT MORESBY – On Friday, I published Part 1 of the O’Neill story, providing an insight into the events that took place in relation to an arrest warrant obtained by Police on 11 October 2019 against former prime minister Peter O’Neill.
To recap, the national court granted a temporary stop order preventing police from arresting O’Neill until the matter returned to court on Monday 21 October.
His lawyers rushed to get the orders sealed by the court registry to serve on police.
Anticipating that O’Neill would attempt to evade arrest by rushing to the court to obtain a stay, and only once he obtained a stay he would come out of hiding, police planned to use that opportunity to lay other charges separate to the warrant.
With this plan in mind, O’Neill was invited to accompany the assistant police commissioner to Boroko Police Station to personally serve the court orders on the deputy police commissioner.
O’Neill was taken into the assistant commissioners’ office and asked to wait until the arrival of the deputy commissioner.
What was unknown to him was that police were in the next room studying the orders and preparing to lay other formal charges unrelated to the warrant of arrest.
It is important to note that while the courts may issue a stay against an arrest warrant, it does not prevent them from exercising their constitutional powers to lay other charges not provided for in the warrant.
However, in the discussion to lay formal charges against O’Neill, there was interference by an officer who vigorously opposed it. He insisted that the court order prohibits police from arresting O’Neill on any matter.
The lead officer sought further legal advice, which confirmed that the court order only related to the arrest warrant, which O’Neill was claiming was defective.
O’Neill was held for three hours before being released without charge.
The next day police sought further advice Papua New Guinea’s top legal officer, the solicitor general, and he advised that the previous legal advice was false and misleading and that the stay specifically related to the arrest warrant.
This gave rise to the question whether certain police officers were deliberately running interference to prevent O’Neill from being charged.
During O’Neill’s detention at Boroko Police Station, the actions of certain officers were also noticed. One snuck in to speak to O’Neill not aware he was being observed.
The same officer claimed he was contacted by a magistrate, who he named, to pass on advice to investigating officers that they should not charge O’Neill otherwise they risked being held in contempt of court for defying the court orders.
Later enquiries revealed that this claim was false and misleading.
I’m informed that the officer and his claims are now being looked into.
The next day police were served copies of the court documents including the evidence O’Neill relied to obtain an interim stay order.
After studying the documents, it was uncovered that O’Neill lawyers filed a fake arrest warrant to mislead the court and make the court believe it was defective.
O’Neill’s lawyers argued that the police failed to tick a box relating to the reason why it was necessary for a warrant of arrest to be issued, thus breaching Section 8 of the Arrest Act.
So, did Police tick the box?
The short answer is yes.
Police were aware of previous arrest warrants declared defective by the Court and made every effort to ensure this would not be repeated.
What was not anticipated was that O’Neill and his lawyers would solicit assistance from the chief justice and were then desperate enough to submit fabricated documents to mislead the court that the warrant was defective as a means to obtain a stay order.
This also explains why they insisted the court hear their application exparte, without having to serve the police, knowing that the police would produce the original copy of the warrant and expose their deceitful and illegal scheme to pervert the course of justice.
To obtain a warrant of arrest, police are required to prepare and file Information – usually a one page document in the name of the officer to the court stating that he believes there are reasonable grounds for believing a specified person has committed an offence.
The document also provided a brief statement of the allegations which make it necessary to effect an arrest to answer to the charge. The officer is required to sign the document and, once it is filed, it bears the court stamp.
The officer is also required to provide a sworn affidavit providing evidence why it is believed the accused person committed the offence.
It is also necessary to submit a statement of summary of facts - a brief that lays out the allegations in greater detail including particulars provided in the information sheet as well as the sworn affidavit.
This is so the court can be clear about the issues and satisfied there are reasonable grounds to believe an offence has been committed.
After considering the information, summary of facts and sworn affidavit, the district court magistrate will grant the officer an arrest warrant. Court registry staff will prepare the warrant of arrest based on the courts own produced forms. They will then print the form, tick the appropriate box as required and magistrate will sign and seal it with court stamp.
Pictured at left is the warrant issued by the district court to police confirming the appropriate box was ticked.
The warrant on the right is the fake produced and submitted by O’Neill and his lawyers to mislead the court. It is important to note the signatures are also clearly different including the font.
This raises the question of how many other similar cases there may have been where courts were misled and even manipulated to defeat justice.
In a later article, I will provide an insight into why the police decided to withdraw the warrant of arrest even when the warrant submitted by O’Neill was clearly fabricated.
I will also provide insights into what transpired in court followed by an in depth analysis into the judge’s rulings and indicate what the public can expect to happen now that O’Neill has flown to Australia.