STAY ORDER GRANTED IN HEARING OF PNG CHIEF JUSTICE

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Police temporarily restricted from further investigation

By Jacob Pok

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, March 12, 2012) –The National Court last Friday granted a stay order to restrain the lower court from hearing Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia’s charge of perverting the course of justice.

Sir Salamo took out the order in his capacity as a citizen – not as the chief justice.

Justice George Manahu granted the order and adjourned the matter to tomorrow for the return of the hearing.

The court also issued further orders restraining the police from carrying out further investigations into the matter until the stay order is lifted.

Sir Salamo was arrested last Tuesday by armed policemen.

He was charged with one count of perverting the course of justice.

Police allege that Sir Salamo disobeyed a court order and illegally redirected a payment of K213,000 [US$101,933] which was meant for the adopted son of the late Justice Timothy Hinchliffe to the court’s trust account.

[PIR editors note: Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga has publicly announced that the chief justice's hearing "must be viewed objectively and limited to the facts of the case." PNG’s police force has been under criticism for the abrupt and armed arrest of the chief justice last week which breached "necessary courtesy." Kulunga also said that Injia "has the right and the opportunity to clear himself when the matter goes to trial."]

They alleged that Sir Salamo and others had "conspired" and ignored a National Court order of 2009 issued by former judge Justice Mark Sevua ordering the National Judicial Staff Services to pay Hinchliffe’s entitlements to his adopted son Timothy Morere Sari Junior.

However, the payment was instead redirected on Sir Salamo’s instruction.

Police alleged that the actions of the chief justice to circumvent a valid order of the court were contemptuous and criminal in nature.

The committal court last Wednesday adjourned the matter to May 7 to give time to the prosecution to prepare evidence.

However, Sir Salamo applied for an ex parte [temporary] restraining order at the National Court to restrain the committal court from further hearing the case.

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