Police ordered out

Main Stories, National

The National, Wednesday 08th Febuary 2012

POLICE Commissioner Tom Kulunga yesterday complied with a Supreme Court order to remove the police barricade near the entrance to the judges’ chambers at the Waigani Court premises.
Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika, Justice Bernard Sakora and Nicholas Kirriwom made the order and then adjourned the case to today.
Inside the packed courtroom when the order was made were all the major players involved in the recent political upheaval to hear directions on various cases stemming from ongoing impasse.
They included deposed prime minister Sir Michael Somare, his political rival Peter O’Neill as well as both men’s nominees for police chief and defence force chief.
But the three-man bench refused to begin hearings, ordering Kulunga to remove the heavy police presence from the court grounds.
“We want a free environment,” acting Chief Justice Salika told the packed courtroom, adding that Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia must be allowed access to the court as well.
“We do not want the judiciary to be under any threats.”
Sir Salamo, the man who presided over last year’s five-man bench which ordered Sir Michael back to power, was not present in yesterday’s hearing, having been turned away once already last Friday from his chambers.
According to yesterday’s court diary, Sir Salamo was scheduled to chair the Supreme Court hearing which dealt with constitutional references and other cases related to the political impasse.
Other parties present yesterday were O’Neill’s deputy Belden Namah and Sir Michael’s deputy Anderson Agiru.
Kirriwom told the court that there was need for the chief justice to participate and assist in the proceedings.
“We cannot continue with threats and intimidation. The chief justice should be allowed access to the courts to assist in the proceedings,” Kirriwom said.
He said Sir Salamo would not necessarily participate but would assist because all the cases arose from the Supreme Court decision of Dec 12 last year.
Justice Sakora told lawyers that messages and orders from the courts were important and should be properly disseminated to their clients and parties involved.
“We have to require your presence here because of concerns that messages and orders of the court do not
reach the clients,” he said.
He said the responsibility was with the lawyers to properly advise their clients.