27 Sep 2004

Vanuatu court quashes charges against Prime Minister

1:59 pm on 27 September 2004

The Vanuatu Supreme Court quashed all contempt charges against Prime Minister Serge Vohor during an appeal hearing at the weekend.

Mr Vohor was charged with contempt after making disparaging comments in Parliament about the Chief Justice, Vincent Lunabek, and faced jail and a hefty fine if convicted.

The Daily Post reports the Fiji Chief Justice presiding over the case, Daniel Fatiaki, said Mr Vohor was not given the opportunity to answer the court in the initial stages of the case as he should have been.

Mr Fatiaki said a preliminary hearing should have been held.

Mr Vohor was overseas when the charges were laid.

The Court also said that even if the case had been handled properly Mr Vohor's statements regarding the chief justice would have been covered under parliamentary privilege.