26 Apr 2004

Vanuatu president may appeal conviction

4:10 pm on 26 April 2004

The president of Vanuatu, Alfred Maseng, is reportedly planning to appeal his criminal conviction in court.

After being elected into office on Easter Monday, Mr Maseng was found to have had a suspended sentence for aiding and abetting, misappropriation and handling stolen property.

If this had been known earlier, he would have not been allowed to stand.

Our correspondent in Port Vila, Kalvau Moli, says an appeal can be launched as a matter of urgency.

"Another twist to the whole controversy is first of all, the appeal will be launched out of time. Because based on one of the law, the appeal usually comes 30 to 60 days after a conviction or a ruling has been handed down. But the legal team representing the head of state believe that they stand a good chance of having the appeal heard as a matter of urgency."

Kalvau Moli says if the matter does go to the court of appeal it will take some time to resolve it.

Meanwhile, the opposition leader, Serge Vohor, has blamed the government for the problems.