31 Mar 2006

Vanuatu publisher freed after controversial detention

3:17 pm on 31 March 2006

The publisher of Vanuatu's Daily Post newspaper has been released following five hours in jail after Supreme Court judge Ham Lison Bulu quashed an arrest warrant to have him remanded for six weeks.

Seven police officers who are also members of the Vanuatu Police rugby team arrested Marc Neil-Jones for a careless driving case which has yet to go to court.

Len Garae reports.

"Judge Bulu described the procedure used by the officers to arrest Mr Neill-Jones as faulty and quashed the case. Mr Neill-Jones is very angry, saying he was put in jail with hard-case criminals including murderers and rapists, simply for careless driving. He says it was clear the police were retaliating against the strong stand taken by the Daily Post which called for the National Rugby Union to discipline the Police rugby team for their violent behaviour on the field when they are supposed to be law enforcement officers. He also said he's investigating the real motive behind the arrest and pointed out that one of the preconditions of the Millennium Challenge Fund coming to Vanuatu is a free press and the Daily Post is the proof that the Millennium Challenge Corporation recognises. Len Garae in Port Vila."