COURT REJECTS STRIKE-OUT BID
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN
CHIEF Justice Sir Albert Palmer on Thursday dismissed a bid by Lau/Mbaelelea MP Augustine Auga to strike out an election petition case filed against him.
Philip Harry, who was runner-up in the April 3 polls, filed the petition against Auga, claiming the Agriculture and Livestock minister paid people to vote for him.
Auga, through his lawyer Wilson Rano, responded by filing an application to have the petition strike out.
He claimed Harry failed to serve the petition in time, and personally on him.
But Sir Albert rejected Auga’s argument and allowed the matter to go to trial.
“The petitioner has shown good reason for the delay and accordingly the matter should be allowed to proceed onto trial in the normal course,” Sir Albert said in his ruling.
Harry’s lawyer Robert Firigeni earlier told the court his client had made several attempts to personally serve the petition on Auga without success.
He said they went looking for him in his office, house and at the Pacific Casino Hotel where he was staying at that time but Auga could not be located or refused to see the petitioner’s agents.
It was on this basis that Sir Albert rejected Auga’s application to have the matter strike out.
“I am also satisfied no prejudice has been shown or, that a fair trial and hearing will not be possible, or compromised in the circumstances of this case,” Sir Albert further added.
Auga was re-elected after wining 4,728 votes while the petitioner Harry, who is the runner-up polled 2,467.
Meanwhile, Sir Albert has reserved his ruling on the application to strike out the petition lodged against the MP for North Malaita, Levi Senley Filualea.
The hearing was held yesterday.
Former MP and losing candidate Jimmy Lusibaea filed the petition, which Filualea wanted the court to strike out, arguing the case was filed outside the time-frame allowed by law.
Two weeks ago, Sir Albert struck out the petition case filed against Aoke-Langalanga MP and Opposition leader Mathew Wale.
This was after Wale’s lawyer Gabriel Suri submitted that the petition was not served within the time-frame stipulated by law.
Losing candidate Vincent Anisi, who came second in the election, filed the petition.
Twenty-eight petition cases were filed in the High Court after the April 3 elections.