Minister of Public Infrastructure, Industries, and Commerce Charles Obichang through the Office of the Attorney General asked the court on Wednesday to strike down the planned filing of an amicus brief in support of the airport expansion project lawsuit by the Belau Tourism Association (BTA) and Palau Chamber of Commerce (PCOC).

In a motion to strike non-party pleadings, Obichang said amicus briefs are supposed to be filed in appellate court cases by non-litigants. The case is still in the trial division and that BTA and PCOC are not parties to the lawsuit, so the organizations should not be allowed to file the amicus brief.

“Simply put, the Palau Chamber of Commerce (PCOC) and the Belau Tourism Association (BTA) are not parties to this lawsuit, as such they are not entitled to be served with anything,” the motion stated.

Obichang was named the defendant in the lawsuit filed in January by five senators citing a violation of the Open Government Act when the minister refused to provide copies of airport expansion project documents.

The senators, in their lawsuit, are also raising the issue to the right of the government to withhold information to the public under the Open Government Act.

BTA and PCOC have been granted filing of an amicus brief by Palau Supreme Court Associate Justice Kathleen Salii to weigh in on the airport lawsuit.

However, Obichang in his motion said that if BTA and PCOC have something to say about the lawsuit, the plaintiff can call them as a witness during the trial. He added that at this point, BTA and PCOC, “It is simply too soon for random non-parties to start filing briefs claiming to be helpful to the court.”

The motion said BTA and PCOC are not acting as “friends of the court” but acting as

He said if the court allows BTA and PCOC to file their amicus brief, it would be a “dangerous precedent.”

“Allowing such non-party interlopers to intervene in a case threatens to bog the system down with pointless evidence and nonsense,” Obichang motions stated.

Associate Justice   Salii on March 23 granted the PCOC and BTA motion to file an amicus brief in support of the earlier lawsuit involving the airport expansion project.

“Finding that such a brief may provide insights relevant to a just disposition of the case of the case, the court hereby grants this request,” the two -page order stated.

PCOC and   BTA said that their organizations “have been aggrieved” by the failure of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce (MPIIC) to provide documents under the Open Government Act regarding the Airport Expansion Project. (Bernadette H. Carreon)