A High Court judge has on Thursday dismissed the petition against Member of Parliament (MP) for South New Georgia Danny Philip.
Judge John Keniapisia dismissed the allegations of undue influence, abuse of electoral process and bribery after a trial.
“In view of the foregoing findings and conclusions, the petition is dismissed with cost on a standard basis,” Keniapisia said.
“I declare that Mr. Danny Philip was the duly elected MP for South New Georgia, Rendova and Tetepare Constituency (SNGRTC).”
Keniapisia added that in many election bribery petition incidences he had dealt with this year, either a giver or a receiver was absent in Court.
He said for this case, in the six bribery incidences alleged, the receivers were absent in court except for one.
“It makes it difficult for the Court to make a conclusion on bribery when one principal party is absent in Court.
“The Court may be inclined to make inferences.
“…..but is unsafe to draw inferences on faces, evidence, and circumstances, surrounding the alleged “bribery giving”, where the standard of proof is a higher one.
“More so, where one principal is absent,” Keniapisia further added.
He said this Court has pronounced in other similar scenarios, where the Receiver is absent in Court, the eyewitnesses of “bystanders” becomes “hearsay” and cannot be used against the Respondent (Give, even when Respondent (Giver) has admitted to the “giving” (Airahui).
He said, “Sikua and Fugui cases, the receivers of gifts or benefits had testified in Court.”
“Bribery is an offence, in Section 126, has two principal parties to it.
“The “Giver” and “Receiver”.
Keniapisia said for the Court to form a conclusion that the facts, evidence, and circumstances, surrounding the “giving” amount to bribery, the Giver and Receiver must come to Court.
He said the Receiver in particular, must be upset, by the circumstances of the “giving”, as the circumstances, affected his or her own “free will” to vote at the time of the election, in one, or all of the ways mentioned in Section 126 (1) (b) (i), (ii) and (iii).
Jonathan Zama Aqarao is a candidate in last year’s National General Election (NGE) for the South New Georgia, Rendova and Tetepare Constituency lodged the petition against Philip.
He lost after polling only 750 votes.
Philip won with 1,577 votes.