8 Jan 2015

PNG court to rule on case against PM

12:59 pm on 8 January 2015

The National Court in Papua New Guinea will rule today on whether the leadership tribunal set up to inquire into alleged misconduct in office against the prime minister Peter O'Neill will be temporarily stayed, and constitutional questions referred to the Supreme Court be determined first.

Yesterday, the court heard from parties including plaintiff Mr O'Neill and defendants Public Prosecutor Pondros Kaluwin, and the leadership tribunal comprising retired New Zealand judge Sir Peter Blanchard and members retired Australian judge John von Boussa and Justice Salatiel Lenalia.

Mr O'Neill's lawyers submitted that the Supreme Court is the only court mandated to deal with matters relating to application and interpretation of constitutional laws.

They also said the tribunal does not have the constitutional mandate to interpret questions relating to constitutional laws.

Mr O'Neill also argued that the Supreme Court should deal with the constitutionality of his referral and make interpretation first, saying that allegations labelled against him had been flawed.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. Photo: Supplied

But the lawyers for the defendets opposed Mr O'Neill's contentions, saying that his notice of motion was brought before the wrong forum which should be dismissed for abuse of process.

They told Justice David Cannings that the tribunal had already been established to inquire into the alleged misconduct in office against Mr O'Neill, and that it should be left to go ahead as scheduled.

Peter O'Neill was referred by the public prosecutor over allegations that cabinet didn't follow normal administrative processes when securing a 1.1 billion US dollar loan from the Swiss bank, UBS, last year.

The Post Courier paper says Justice Cannings has set the ruling for today at 3pm local time.