Court allows Pala to fight arrest warrant

ATTORNEY-General Ano Pala, who was charged with conspiring with others to defeat the course of justice in relation to the Paul Paraka Lawyers legal bills payments case, will review the issuance of warrant of arrest against him in the National Court.

He also obtained interim injunctions from Justice Colin Makail yesterday, restraining the police from executing that warrant of arrest until his matter is heard and determined.

Mr Pala, who is also Minister for Justice, claimed in his leave application for judicial review in the National Court that the principal magistrate of Waigani District Court, Cosmas Bidar, had erred by relying on wrong facts to issue the warrant of arrests on him on July 11 this year.

Ralph Saulep, representing Mr Pala, submitted that the facts relied on by Mr Bidar to issue warrant of arrest were wrong because Mr Pala was not Attorney-General at the time when court proceedings in relation to payments of legal bills by the State to Paraka Lawyers were instituted.

Justice Makail granted the leave application after he was satisfied that Mr Pala has standing as the Attorney-General, he has raised serious questions in relation to his bid for judicial review, he had an arguable case with the balance of convenience favouring him and the overall interest of justice.

The facts arose out of an allegation leveled against the Attorney-General, that he conspired with certain named lawyers, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Finance Minister James Marape and others to pervert the course of justice.

It was alleged on July 11 that Mr Pala as Attorney-General, along with the above named persons, conspired to pervert the course of justice by instituting proceedings titled OS 115 of 2014 – James Marape vs Paul Paraka Lawyers.

However, Saulep submitted that a charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice under Section 128 of the Criminal Code was misconceived, saying this could have misled the magistrate, who made the Arrest Order ex parte (meaning, in the absence of Mr Pala).

The court noted that a charge under Section 128 of the Criminal Code was an indictable offence and as such was a serious matter and must be fully tried.

Judge Makail ordered that the matter returned to court on December 10, at 9.30am for directions.
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