BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
THE Court of Appeal has quashed the decision of the High Court imposing a stay of proceedings on the case of Nelson Maeta and other two co-accused.
The recent Court of Appeal heard recently has allowed the prosecution’s appeal and ruled the case be remitted to the Magistrates Court for trial.
The decision said that the magistrate court has an obligation to conduct criminal trials in accordance with the Constitution, being a fair trial within a reasonable time before an independent and impartial tribunal and that it therefore must have been endowed with the powers to achieve that objective.
“We therefore do not rule out the existence of the power of stay but the circumstances in which such a power falls to be exercised are not matter to be found within this appeal and therefore we cannot assist the parties to this appeal with any definitive statement of principle,” The Court of Appeal judges said.
This is the case against Gordon Mark, Nelson Maeta and John Nelson Ross.
Previously their defence lawyers applied for a permanent stay on their case on issues of jurisdiction.
In 2016, the High Court granted a permanent stay of the criminal proceedings in which the prosecution has appealed the High Court’s decision.
The allegation said the trio were charged in relation to the allegation between November 1 and 30, 2011 where the two accused and other men obtained more than $300,000 by selling the victim fake gold bars.
Police alleged the men approached the victim, Hypolite Taremae, who is the former Minister of Truth Reconciliation and Peace, at his office at Anthony Saru Building.
Police said that the men went to see the alleged victim with the intention to obtained money through false pretence and also lure him into believing their made up stories.
The men and others allegedly told Taremae that they were from Weathercoast in Guadalcanal. And in the coming days a reconciliation ceremony will take place in their village but they did not have enough money.
It was at that time they showed a picture of a gold bar to Taremae which they claimed to be in their possession, Police said.
They allegedly said they have some gold bars which were stolen by the former Guadalcanal war-lord Harold Keke that was taken from the former Ross Mining during the height of the ethnic tension.
The men also allegedly showed Taremae a certification letter from the Director of Mines that confirmed that the gold bars were gold and worth six million dollars.
Having heard from the accused and seen all the documents, Taremae was convinced.
Then on various occasions between July and November 2011, the accused men allegedly handed Taremae three gold bars in return they received $300,000.
The victim however, later found that the men lied to him and he took the “gold bars” to a dealer who confirmed they were fakes.
The bars were made from lead metal and painted with gold colour paint.
It was also alleged that the men threatened the case officer who was investigating their case that they will shoot him with a gun.
The allegation further said that the men claimed that they still have guns and will hunt for the case officer everywhere and will kill him.