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Regional News

Palau Senate unhappy with interim special prosecutor

KOROR (Tia Belau/Pacnews) — Displeased members of the Palau Senate will hold a public hearing to look into the action of the interim special prosecutor or ISP who had recently called for a dismissal of the case against Vice President and Minister of Justice Antonio Bells.

The Senate has adopted a joint resolution expressing disapproval with the interim special prosecutor’s recent prosecution of the vice president.

Senate Joint Resolution 9-69 was adopted unanimously on January 19 and will be transmitted for action to the House of Delegates.

Antonio BellsAntonio Bells

It follows the court order granting the motion to dismiss criminal charges against the vice president.

Simms earlier filed charges against VP Bells alleging misconduct in public office and code of ethics violations. But on Jan. 11, 2016, the interim special prosecutor filed a motion to dismiss those charges on the grounds that the dismissal was in the best interest of the republic.

The resolution stated that the action by the ISP is baseless and wrong.

“[T]he Olbiil Era Kelulau (Palau Congress) believes that the prosecution of Vice President Bells was unfounded and wrongful, and that it disapproves of the interim special prosecutor’s prosecution of the vice president,” the joint resolution stated.

Further, the resolution expresses concern about the situation and how it affects the people’s confidence in their government.

The Olbiil Era Kelulau believes that a hearing should be held so all information can come to light and to allow the republic to move on.

While Simms requested the court for dismissal, she still maintains that the vice president doesn’t have the power to subpoena bank accounts of non-government agencies, which is the core of the case against Bells.

This got several senators to question why she didn’t continue to pursue the criminal charges.

“After filing criminal charges against the vice president forcing him to spend his own money on court representation, the ISP then turns around and moves the court to dismiss the case, which is not right.   Who is going to pay the vice president legal expenses?” asked Sen. Philip Reklai. “Not only the financial burden, but his family members are devastated by this speculative action from the interim special prosecutor.”

Sen. Hokkons Baules, for his part, asked: “Isn’t it also in the best interest of the republic to prosecute these criminal charges?”