Ruling Monday next week
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN
THE fate of re-elected Central Guadalcanal MP Peter Shanel Agovaka now rests in the hands of a female magistrate.
This came after the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal Agovaka lodged against a High Court ruling on his criminal case, Friday.
Agovaka faces one count of assault causing actual bodily harm. This was in relation to an allegation on 17 December 2013 at his Lengakiki residence in Honiara.
Friday’s Court of Appeal ruling means Agovaka’s case will have to be remitted back to the Magistrate’s Court for judgement.
Principal Magistrate Fatima Taeburi presided over Agovaka’s trial before the Central Guadalcanal MP decided to appeal the matter further to the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
With the Court of Appeal ruling, all that’s left is judgement, which Ms Taeburi is expected to deliver Monday next week.
A six-month jail term or above will mean Agovaka losing the Central Guadalcanal seat, which he had been occupying since 2006.
In the criminal case, Agovaka is co-accused with Steven Wako, who already pleaded guilty to the charge and awaiting his sentence.
Prosecution alleged Agovaka attacked one of his voters who called at his residence to enquire about funding.
Before the trial proceeded in his matter in the Magistrates’ Court, Agovaka lodged an application to strike out the entire court proceedings.
This was on grounds that it was not properly instituted.
His lawyer, Francis Waleilia of Tandai Lawyers, had submitted that the proceedings are instituted in the wrong form, thus is misleading and is an abuse of court.
Ms Taeburi however, dismissed the appeal and ordered trial to proceed.
But at the end of the trial, Agovaka’s lawyer filed an appeal to the High Court against the order by Ms Taeburi, dismissing his application to strike out the matter at the Magistrates’ Court.
The matter took a while before it was listed for the hearing.
On appeal, Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer dismissed Agovaka’s appeal and ordered that the matter be remitted back to the Honiara Magistrates’ Court for judgment.
The judgement was ready to be delivered.
But Shanel decided to go straight to the Court of Appeal to appeal against the chief justice’s ruling.
It was for this reason that Agovaka’s matter continued to be mentioned in the Honiara Magistrate’s Court, awaiting the Court of Appeal ruling.
The Court of Appeal heard the arguments on March 29, and delivered the ruling yesterday in the High Court.
Public Prosecutor Bradley Dalipanda prosecuted the matter.
This is not the first time Agovaka had a brush with the law as a member of parliament.
In 2008, two years after he first won the Central Guadalcanal seat in the 2006 election, he was convicted and jailed for nine months for assault and possession of an illegal weapon.
He subsequently lost the seat, but was re-elected again in the 2010 elections.
He was appointed the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Danny Philip led government, but was later sacked in 2012 by Philip’s successor Gordon Darcy Lilo.
Agovaka reclaimed his seat in the 2014 elections, and was appointed the Minister for Police and National Security in the new government.
He was later reshuffled to the Ministry of Communications and Aviation, a portfolio he held until the 10th parliament dissolved last December.
The April 3 polls saw him collecting 3,584 votes, well ahead of his runner up Walton Naezon, who received 2,978.
Five candidates contested the seat.