Police return to court over Thompson ruling

National, Normal

The National, Friday, 27th May 2011

THE police top brass is again taking acting judge Justice Royale Thompson to court, this time appealing to the Supreme Court.
In a notice of appeal, the first appellant is East New Britain provincial police commander Sylvester Kalaut, who initially arrested Thompson on April 1.
Acting Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie is the second appellant.
They are disputing an earlier National Court decision, claiming that trial judge Justice Catherine Davani had “erred in law” when she ordered that they be permanently stopped from proceeding to prosecute Thompson on charges of perverting the course of justice.
The police officers last Friday filed their intention to appeal the lower court’s decision of April 14 with the Supreme Court registry.
Last Friday’s notice of appeal by Wagambie and Kalaut, yet to be scheduled, argued that Davani’s decision was unlawful, saying she had acted in Thompson’s favour.
Soon after her arrest on April 1, and release on K2,000 bail, Thompson had obtained an ex-parte application stopping the two daily newspapers from publishing anything about her arrest.
She also stopped police from prosecuting her in the District Court pending the hearing of the substantive matter.
Police had charged Thompson over her role as a private lawyer involved in the detaining of oil tanker UBT Fjord in Kokopo.
The state claimed Thompson had attempted to pervert the course of justice where Customs duties of K14 million had been evaded when a shipment of crude oil, aboard UBT Fjord, was allegedly stolen from PNG by Singaporean-based oil company, Integra Ltd.
The perversion of justice claim centred on a half-page advertisement Thompson had placed in a daily newspaper saying the oil tanker had left PNG waters lawfully.
The state disagreed and that led to her arrest soon after she was appointed an acting judge of the PNG National and Supreme courts.
The matter went to court and Davani last month ordered a stop to the prosecution because Thompson had been acting in her capacity as the lawyer for the foreign oil tanker, its contents, ship’s captain and its Singaporean owners when she had placed the half-page advertisement.
Thompson’s lawyer Ian Molloy had successfully argued that the oil tanker had legally left the country, contrary to what the state agencies claimed.