Court gives candidate more time to prepare witness statement

National

By DAPHNE WANI
A candidate who filed an election petition against Tari-Pori MP James Marape was given an extension by the court to prepare witness statements.
The court gave Johnny Pokaya a week to collect witness statements and serve Marape and the electoral commission relevant court documents.  The decision was after the court refused an application that was filed on Oct 4 by Marape to seek to dismiss the entire petition challenging his victory.
The application for dismissal was filed when Pokaya’s lawyers failed to comply with court directions issued on Sept 13 during the directions hearing.
The court heard that Pokaya and his lawyers were busy with interlocutory applications filed by Marape and had not complied with specific court directions.
Justice Collin Makail said that the election of Marape was  in question and the petition must be allowed to go through trial so that parties can be fully heard.
He also found that the petitioner’s explanations seeking extension was not satisfactory to the court.
Justice Makail used the court’s discretions and also invoked the interest of justice to allow for an extension to Pokaya to prepare and file statements from his witnesses and have them served on Marape and the electoral commission.
The petition will return to court on Nov 6 for pre-trial conference and listing.

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