Court refuses Chan’s application

The National Court will proceed to set trial dates for the election petition that was filed disputing the election of Walter Schnaubelt as Namatanai MP.

Petitioner Byron Chan last week asked the court to refer seven questions to the Supreme Court surrounding the alleged illegal use of the aeroplane fold or ‘balus fold’ that was used by Schnaubelt’s supporters during polling.

Today, Justice Collin Makail gave his ruling on the application, refusing to refer the proposed questions.

He said they are not serious and complex to justify their referral to the Supreme Court, but are based on allegations of illegal practice outlined in the petition.

“In my view the proposed questions are directly connected to the allegations of illegal practice at polling and fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Court to determine,” Justice Makail said.

In refusing to refer the proposed questions, he also said this was to avoid duplication of hearing on the same issue by the two courts.

The petition alleges five instances of illegal practice, four instances of bribery and two instances of errors and omission on the part of the Electoral Commission.

Chan is seeking orders of the court to nullify Schnaubelt’s election on the basis the ballot paper fold was illegal.

He alleges the ‘balus fold’ has contradicted section 138(b) of the Organic Law on National and Local Level Government Elections.

So far, Chan has filed 18 witness statements while Schnaubelt has filed 19 witness statements that will be used in the trial.

The matter will return to court on Friday for pre-trial conference where trial dates will be set.

Sally Pokiton