INVESTIGATIONS & ARRESTS

by
PAUL AMATIO

To Secure Convictions, Satisfy Public Indignation or Just Going Through The Motions?

The recent Waigani Committal Court decision by Magistrate Ernest Wilmot must now be seen as a matter of national interest because it involved the alleged abuse of K80 millions of public funds – money that this country can ill afford to squander, impinged on the reputations of those charged and implicated and also on those who investigated the allegations and made the arrests.

The costs of the investigation itself would come close to several million as well, I suspect.

The learned magistrate cited “abuse of process” as the reason for dismissing the entire 22 charges. So this means that in not a single of these 22 charges did the investigators fail to abuse the process. It would have been enlightening indeed if His Worship had made mention of exactly what process was abused or how the abuse of process occurred. I suppose we will have to find out if and when this matter is appealed.

We are now left wondering if Mr Damaru, Mr Koim and all the officers who worked days and nights on this case were either incompetent, unprofessional or professionally negligent? Mr Paraka has now come out saying the former Sweep Team and every other person involved in the whole case resulting in his arrest “lied”. 

I assume this means the evidence presented in court was made up or fabricated. His choice of words is interesting because the reason the magistrate gave for dismissing the matter was that it was an abuse of process. To my unlearned mind, this means, a key requirement was not met. There is no mention of insufficient evidence. 

Nor is there any proof that any or all of the documents presented in court were falsified. Or witnesses’ statements were doctored or misleading.
An interesting footnote in this matter is the fact that when investigators were looking to arrest him, Mr Paraka managed to make himself hard to locate. And his various attempts at derailing or stemming the investigations and arrest process.

Personally, I believe that Mr Paraka’s celebratory statements that he has been cleared and by extension, all others implicated have also been cleared are both misleading and premature. I think the case is not over yet.

The police can ask the State Prosecutor to intervene and have the matter brought before the National Court in an ex-officio indictment. Secondly, Mr Paraka is not every other person implicated, hence any other person implicated can still be arrested and charged for related offences if implicated in the investigation file. I also think that if the police prosecutor feels this matter has been wrongly disposed of, he is at liberty to appeal to a higher court.

Given the competence and professionalism of the principal investigators, namely Messrs Damaru and Koim, I believe that they would never have had Mr Paraka arrested if they felt they had no chance of securing a conviction. And I would very much like to see them take this matter further to the fullest extent of the law.

This decision is controversial, to my understanding and this should not be the end.

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