A Constitutional case that has been filed by Chinese national Li Jianjun has been quashed by the Supreme Court.
Mr Jianjun acknowledged that he has a pending criminal case before the court and when it came to hearing, he said that he has filed criminal proceedings against all judges and that they be disqualified of hearing his case.
Justice Andree Wiltens said that the application was flawed from a criminal facing prosecution and the trial was scheduled to resume after Jianjun’s lawyer asked more time to prepare his case.
He said that Justice Saksak, the trial Judge in the criminal proceeding had to halt the case pending the outcome of this Constitutional application.
As a direct consequence, two Chinese nationals were adversely affected in that they travelled to Vanuatu in time to give evidence on June 5, 2019, which was then deferred to June 10, 2019.
They were due to return to China on June 12, 2019 and that would well jeopardize the criminal trial, in the sense of the cost and their willingness to return to give evidence.
The adjournment by Justice Saksak led to the Respondent filing an application to treat an urgently arranged Conference as the first hearing of, and to strike out, the Constitutional application.
A sworn statement by Mr Simcha Blessing came with the application to strike-out, and shortly before the scheduled 2.30pm Conference, the Respondent’s submissions were filed.
The first matter addressed was an oral application for the judge to recuse himself on the basis of perceived bias.
This was on the basis that the court had dealt previously with Mr Jianjun and that he had filed proceedings against Justice Wiltens and several other Judges of the Court of Appeal.
“I declined the application,” said Justice Wiltens.
“The Constitutional application referred to was in respect of a Mr Zheng, who had faced immigration issues which I had dealt with.
“Mr Jianjun was not a party to that litigation although he often accompanied Mr Zheng.
“I made no decisions in relation to Mr Jianjun, nor any rulings or directions.
“The suggestion that Mr Jianjun was representing Mr Zheng with his immigration issues is nonsense – Mr Jianjun is not a practising lawyer.
“He was present at times, as I have indicated, but he was not involved in the proceedings other than to support Mr Zheng.
“I was certain that a fully informed independent and impartial observer would not reasonably apprehend any bias on my part in hearing this matter.
“I accordingly declined to recuse myself.”
Mr Hakwa sought to defer the application to strike out, rightly submitting that matters had proceeded extremely swiftly.
But when Justice Wiltens asked Mr Hakwa for submissions regarding the real issues he was able to respond without difficulty.
In the circumstances, he considered the urgency of the situation such that it was necessary for a decision to be made without delay.
Justice Wiltens said that he did not simply wanted to adjourn this application which would prejudice the criminal trial if there was merit in the application.
He deemed a conference as the first hearing, and proceeded to hear the merits of the arguments as to striking out.
Mr Hakwa complained of late disclosure and difficulties with translations. These are matters for the trial Judge.
After his final view on the issue, the judge then ruled out the constitutional application forcing the criminal case to proceed.