By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN
THE Director of Public Prosecutions Ronald Bei Talasasa says there is a control mechanism within the management of cases in his office.
Mr Talasasa was responding to remarks made by Principal Magistrate Fatima Taeburi, who criticised him over “sloppy prosecution work” that delayed the matter of the two cops who were now acquitted of assault charges early this week.
“If it appears to any person that there is no control mechanism within the management of cases in the office then I am afraid, it reflects on an erroneous assumption, or perhaps inexperience or ignorance, to say the least,” Mr Talasasa told the Solomon Star.
He explained that in the ordinary course of business, if the DPP is away overseas or on leave, the Attorney General acts as DPP.
“That is the constitutional structure which is stipulated by the Constitution.
“In other words, the office of the DPP is not left vacant by the physical absence of the holder of the office.
”At this time and age, technology has even made arrangements even easier and convenient.
“Any query or opinion by an officer of the ODPP for the DPP to consider is given a response within a day or so, depending on the timing of the opinion.
Mr Talasasa said there is no difference to the process whether the DPP is in country or not; in office or on leave.
He said with regard to making decisions, the process is clear.
“If the matter goes to court then it means the decision is to go to court, whether or not the complainant or the victim wants the matter withdrawn.
“For assault cases, only common assault is a reconcilable offence, not assault causing actual bodily harm or other serious charges.
”Let others know that I do not buy a complainant's or victim's request to withdraw a charge,” he said.
He further explained that serious charges are presented in court and the complainant has to testify but if he or she wishes not to proceed, then the appropriate forum to end that matter is within the bowels of court, not on the palm of his hands.
“Of course, there are matters that warrant an order of withdrawal or entering of a nolle prosequi by the DPP.
“I have done that and will continue to exercise that discretion, depending on the circumstances of each case.
“That is my constitutional mandate.
“If the DPP decides that a matter proceeds to trial, and offer no evidence in the course of the trial, should it then be open to any person to criticise the exercise of that constitutional function? I think not.
“For this case in particular, the circumstance does not warrant that the charge be withdrawn.
”My officers know that they do not have to wait for my physical presence, as we communicate by emails, telephones, or other means, on a regular basis.
“I read my emails every hour and respond to office queries accordingly.
“That is when I am away.”
Mr Talasasa stated that the office does not wait for his physical presence in order to get a decision, neither does he need to go back to the office for a decision to be made.
He said he is currently in Munda preparing for the murder case involving a young woman who died on 1 March 2015 at Noro, Western Province.
This murder case will be tried for two weeks next week at Gizo, Western Province.
Ms Taeburi criticised Mr Talasasa on Monday when handing down the judgment on the case of the two police officers.
She blamed the DPP for the delay in this matter.
“This is clearly a waste of time and resources.”
“The failure by prosecution to asses this matter during the earlier stages of this case goes to show un-professionalism, incompetency and sloppy prosecution work.
“The manner in which the DPP’s office has conducted the prosecution in this matter is a disgrace,” she said.
Ms Taeburi said she was told that the only person in the DPP’s office who is authorised to make decisions as to whether a charge should be prosecuted or not, is the DPP Ronald Bei Talasasa himself.
She was also told that Mr Talasasa is not in the office at present and that there is no other officer in that office who can make the necessary decisions in the absence of the DPP.
“So I pose the question, what is going to happen to all criminal cases in which there is no prospect of success and in which the only ethical decision to make is to apply for withdrawal?
“Are we going to put a halt on all these cases until such time that Mr Talasasa returns from Munda and is available in office?”
Ms Taeburi said these kinds of decisions are not to be put on halt.
“This is simply because the wheels of justice never stop.
“If Mr Talasasa is on holidays or overseas, then another officer within the DPP’s office should be entrusted to make these kinds of decisions.
“This is because the Criminal Justice System and the operations of the courts do not revolve around the DPP’s timetable.”
The two officers were acquitted after the witness said he did not want to proceed with the matter at the start of the trial early this week.