The election petition hearing between the former Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for Gizo/Kolombangara Constituency Gordon Darcy Lilo and his rival Jimson Fiau Tanangada has been moved to tomorrow afternoon.
The reason for the adjournment was because Nuatali Tongarutu of ANT Legal Service who represents the petitioner Lilo is being admitted at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) for mild stroke.
Justice Rex Foukona informed the court yesterday that he received information from the High Court registry office that Tongarutu was admitted at the hospital yesterday.
The court will know the next step on this case tomorrow as to whether petitioner Mr Lilo will be cross-examined by Tanangada’s lawyer or the hearing to be moved to July.
Five witnesses have so far testified in court since the hearing started last November.
Donald Marahare of DNS & Partners who represents Tanangada has on Monday applied to strike out the election petition hearing.
This is the third attempt he made to strike out the hearing.
Mr Donald Marahare based his grounds to strike out the hearing due to the conduct shown by Nuatali Tongarutu of ANT Legal Service who represents the petitioner, former Prime Minister and former MP for Gizo/Kolobangara, Gordon Darcy Lilo.
This is due to the failure to attend court hearings on number of times which has caused the delay in the completion of this hearing since it started November last year.
Mr Marahare said her conduct does not speak well of her being a senior practitioner.
Five of the petitioner’s witnesses have already testified in court leaving the petitioner himself left to be cross-examined by Marahare.
The court was yesterday informed Nuatali Tongarutu of ANT Legal Service who represents the petitioner is suffering from a mild stroke and was admitted to the National Referral Hospital on Tuesday.
The application to strike out the hearing was made on Monday when Tongarutu failed to appear in court.
Justice Foukona however in fairness to the petitioner adjourned the matter to Tuesday afternoon to hear from the petitioner’s lawyer.
On Tuesday, the court was greeted with a letter from the petitioner’s lawyer informing the court that she was sick and unable to walk.
The letter also stated that she was expected recover yesterday.
Mr Marahare however told the court that that letter contradicts the fact that Nuatali was seen by other lawyers at the Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
She attended a separate criminal case at the Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
Justice Foukona informed the court he received information from the High Court registry office that Nuatali is suffering from a mild stroke and is admitted at the NRH.
However there was no letter or medical report to confirm that.
Mr Marahare then applied to the court to vacate the full days of hearing but Justice Foukona however adjourned the matter to tomorrow afternoon.
The court will know by then the next step in this case as to whether the petitioner will be cross-examined or the hearing moved to July.
The hearing into this election petition case was listed for five days last November.
During those five days, the petitioner’s case could not be completed and the hearing moved to March this year for another 10 days.
Mr Marahare said due to the conduct show by the petitioner’s lawyer for being absent in court most times due to illness or no reason, the petitioner’s case is not yet completed.
Lilo lodged the petition challenging Tanangada who unseated him in the 19 November 2014 national elections.
He alleged Tanangada of treating, bribery and undue influence during the election campaign.
He accused his rival over bribing the voters and paying them to vote for him.
Tanangada has 18 witnesses.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN