Order restrains Yakasa’s arrest

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday 19th December 2011

POLICE officer Fred Yakasa has obtained a court order restraining police from arresting him for leading a group of armed policemen to block the road to Government House last Monday and Tuesday.
The order was issued ex parte, or without the other side appearing, last Friday by Justice Catherine Davani. The order named Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga as first defendant and the state as the fourth defendant.
Yakasa had led a group of policemen to block the entry to Government House last Monday, preventing Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill from being sworn in following his election as prime minister in parliament.
Parliament suspended Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio on Tuesday.
Speaker Jeffery Nape took over as acting governor-general and swore in O’Neill and his cabinet in the chamber of parliament.
The next day, the armed men Yakasa had put together returned their vehicles and firearms, and disbanded itself, declaring their loyalty to Kulunga in a ceremony at police headquarters in Konedobu. Yakasa allegedly went into hiding as he was wanted for questioning. He resurfaced last Friday with the court order to prevent his arrest.
Lawyers representing Kulunga had indicated going to court today to set aside the order.
In a media conference yesterday, O’Neill criticised the court order.
He said the order effectively prevented police from carrying out their constitutional duties.
“What if Yakasa or his men shot someone? Such a court order would prevent a criminal investigation against them, and this is not right,” O’Neill told reporters at Morauta Haus.
O’Neill said Yakasa should be subjected to the law like all other citizens of PNG.
In the substantive hearing, Yakasa is seeking that he be recognised as the legally-appointed police commissioner as per the gazettal notice of Dec 13, 2011 (Gazettal No.G390).
He also denied a television news report that the court had already declared him acting police commissioner.