16 Jun 2003

Call for pardons for Vanuatu mutineers

3:17 pm on 16 June 2003

Traditional chiefs on the Vanuatu island of Tanna have called for a presidential pardon for four former senior police officers who were jailed after being convicted of mutiny.

The four are former Vanuatu Mobile Force commander, Api Jack Marikembo, former deputy police commissioners, Holi Simon and Paul Willie Reuben, and former regional commander, Eric Pakoa.

A spokesman for the chiefs says if the head of state, President John Bani, could pardon Barak Sope who was jailed on fraud charges, then he could pardon the four senior policemen.

They were convicted in December of mutiny, inciting mutiny, kidnapping and false imprisonment after the unauthorised arrests of more than a dozen leading public officials in a protracted dispute over the appointment of a new police commissioner.

They were jailed for two years last month after state prosecutors won an appeal overturning their suspended sentences.