PORT MORESBY, 31 OCTOBER 2019 (RNZ PACIFIC/THE NATIONAL) — Police in Papua New Guinea have withdrawn their arrest warrant against the former prime minister, Peter O’Neill.
An arrest warrant was issued for the Ialibu-Pangia MP on 11 October.
O’Neill has sought leave for a judicial leave of the warrant in relation to a corruption case, calling it defective.
But today, police withdrew the warrant, seeking to have the legal proceedings against him thrown out.
But O’Neill’s lawyers argued against the move, saying police would just seek a fresh warrant to avoid the review.
The State Solicitor, however, argued that O’Neill’s lawyers were trying to delay the matter by keeping it in court.
The case has been adjourned.
Meanwhile, the Waigani Committal Court has granted variation orders to Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato to travel without the court’s permission.
Magistrate Cosmas Bidar granted the order Wednesday in the absence of Ernest Wilmot, the magistrate in charge of the matter.
The orders were sought by lawyer Peter Punau, who appeared on behalf of Gamato.
Gamato, 53, from Sapa village, Huon district, Morobe, is on a K3,000 (US$882) bail after he was charged with conspiring with 2017 National Capital District election manager Terence Hetinu over an unsourced K184,300(US$54,184) found on Hetinu in Port Moresby during the polling period on June 27, 2017.
Police alleged that Gamato made a public statement on the date that he had issued the money to Hetinu to pay election officials in Port Moresby.
However, sources within the electoral commission claimed the commission did not receive any funding to pay NCD election polling officials at the time.
Police prosecutor Joseph Sangam argued that Gamato’s bail conditions were made in accordance with Section 18 of the Bail Act which did not stop Gamato from travelling.
“There is no need for variation since the same court issued the bail conditions,” Sangam said.
“All the defendant needs to do is to seek leave of this court before travelling.”
Punau submitted that his client was a constitutional office holder and that his travel schedule could require him to fly out of Port Moresby at any time.
“We cannot keep bombarding the courts every now and then just to seek leave of the court for him to travel.”
Bidar after granting the variation adjourned Gamato’s substantive matter to 22 November. (PACNEWS)