O’Neill’s lawyers seek leave for judicial review

Lawyers of former Prime Minister and Ialibu-Pangia MP, Peter O’Neill, today presented submissions in the National Court, seeking leave for a judicial review to be conducted on two decisions of the Waigani District Court.

The order restraining police from arresting O’Neill has been extended till Friday 3pm, when the National Court is to hand down its decision on his leave application – whether or not it will review the two decisions of the District Court.  

The first decision was that of Magistrate Cosmas Bidar on October 11 when he issued an arrest warrant for police to execute and bring O’Neill in for questioning for the offence of official corruption.

This is in relation to a complaint by Madang MP Bryan Kramer over the funding of a community project in Madang.

The second decision O’Neill wants reviewed is the decision by the same district court on Monday October 28th, which withdrew the arrest warrant after interim orders were issued on October 16, restraining police from executing the warrant on him.

Lawyer Greg Sheppard told the court today that the form of warrant ‘was defective’, as there was no proper allegations of any crime committed, no signature of the magistrate on the warrant and O’Neill’s name was spelt incorrectly.

He submitted the warrant cannot be withdrawn by the District Court when the process was stayed by the National Court on October 16.

Representing the state Solicitor General Tauvasa Tanuvasa, Magistrate Bidar and the police asked for the dismissal of the judicial review proceeding as the defendants withdrew the arrest warrant on 28 October.

He went on to submit the interim order (restraining order) of October 16 does not stop the magistrate from withdrawing the warrant. There was no arrest warrant anymore since its withdrawal on Monday.

He further submitted the case is an abuse of the court process relying on the precedent case of Eremas Wartoto in 2014, when he filed a judicial review to stop his criminal trial progressing in the National Court.

Sheppard in response said the Wartoto case is different from that of O’Neill’s now because Wartoto’s was an ongoing case in the National Court where he was trying to use a civil proceeding to stop a trial.

Sally Pokiton