Court to rule on lawyer’s hiring

The National,Friday July 1st, 2016

POLICE have asked the Supreme Court to determine the legality of private lawyers representing heads of the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate in an appeal filed by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
The appeal challenges a National Court decision which joined Director Chief Superintendent Matthew Damaru and Deputy Director Chief Inspector Timothy Gitua to O’Neill’s case regarding the legality of an arrest warrant.
Lawyer Ian Molloy, representing former Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki, raised the issue in court yesterday of whether Damaru and Gitua were properly represented by a private law firm.
Lawyer Ralph Saulep, representing the State, said Attorney-General Ano Pala was not aware of the State hiring private firm Jema Lawyers or overseas counsel Greg Egan to act for Damaru and Gitua.
Saulep said this was a matter of concern because Jema Lawyers and Egan continued to defy the Attorney-Generals Act.
O’Neill’s lawyer Mal Varitimos QC agreed with Molloy and Saulep’s submissions.
Egan in response said the other parties were seeking to create an unfamiliar situation where his clients would not be allowed to have legal representation in court.
Egan asked the matter to be adjourned to next week because the legal representation for his clients was also raised in another appeal heard on Wednesday.
Former Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki challenged a National Court decision delivered last year which convicted him for contempt and ordered for a three-year jail term to be imposed.
Damaru and Gitua had filed contempt proceedings against Vaki for failing to execute a warrant of arrest against O’Neill in 2014.
Egan asked for the case to be adjourned to Wednesday (July 6) because the Supreme Court on that same day would give its decision on the issue of legal representation of Damaru and Gitua in Vaki’s appeal.
He said he suggested this approach to avoid two Supreme Court benches deciding on one issue.
Varitimos, Molloy and Saulep agreed with Egan’s proposal.
Justice Salatiel Lenalia, Justice Derek Hartshorn and Justice Iova Geita adjourned the matter to next Wednesday. O’Neill commenced review proceedings in the National Court on July 2014, which sought a review of a decision by Chief Magistrate Nerrie Eliakim to issue a warrant of arrest against him.
Eliakim issued the warrant following a successful application by Gitua on June 12, 2014, in the District Court.
On July 18, 2014, the National Court granted leave to O’Neill for judicial review.
It also  stayed the execution of the arrest warrant until the matter before the court was determined before further action.