21 Sep 2004

Vanuatu PM given more time to prepare defence

1:11 pm on 21 September 2004

Vanuatu's prime minister, Serge Vohor, has been granted more time to prepare his defence against charges of contempt.

Mr Vohor was charged after he allegedly made derogatory comments in parliament about the chief justice, Vincent Lunabek.

The Supreme Court granted the appeal because the lawyers argued the prime minister was taken by surprise on being handed a summons as soon as he arrived back from an overseas trip.

Len Garae of the Daily Post newspaper says the chief justice wasn't involved in the decision to postpone the case.

And, he says it hasn't yet been decided if Mr Lunabek will be one of the three-strong panel of Supreme Court judges who will sit on the hearing.

"The initial decision was made by Justice Ham Bulu. It is not clear if the Chief Justice is to hear it, I mean after all it is about he himself; it's not clear if he is going to hear it."

Len Garae says the prime minister is currently on another trip and is believed to be in Singapore.