QC seeks orders to quash O’Neill warrant of arrest

A QUEEN’S counsel representing Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is seeking court orders to quash a warrant of arrest issued against O’Neill in June 2014.

Mal Varitimos QC appeared before Justice Colin Makail and moved his submissions to quash a decision by Chief Magistrate Nerrie Eliakim on June 12, 2014, to issue a warrant for O’Neill’s arrest over allegations of official corruption levelled against him in relation to payments made to a private law firm by the State.

Justice Makail is expected to give the court’s decision next Friday (April 28).

Mr Varitimos told the court that there was no information laid before the court which would enable the chief magistrate to be satisfied that there were reasonable grounds to issue the warrant of arrest.

He submitted that statutory requirements to obtain a warrant of arrest pursuant to Section 8 of the Arrest Act were not complied with.

The provision basically states that a court may issue a warrant for the arrest of a person where information was laid before the court and that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the person has committed an offence, and that his arrest was necessary.

Mr Varitimos submitted that the chief magistrate did not properly exercise her discretion before making the decision.

He also submitted that the warrant of arrest against O’Neill contained certain deficiencies including that the form of the proffered charge referred to in the warrant of arrest was not an offence known to law.

Mr Varitimos said the police applied for the warrant of arrest because the alleged offence against O’Neill was official corruption, which by law required a warrant for his arrest.

But he said the warrant was issued without following statutory requirements under the Arrest Act.

Lawyer Nicholas Tame, representing Commissioner of Police Gari Baki, and lawyer Emmanuel Asigau, representing the State, supported Varitimos’ submissions. There was no argument put to court to challenge Varitimos’ submissions.