18 Dec 2006

Speculation surrounds unprecedented shooting outside Vanuatu court

4:11 pm on 18 December 2006

There is speculation in Vanuatu that a man who was shot outside the courthouse in Port Vila was deliberately hit.

The victim, James Kalatei who is also the newly appointed President of the Vanuatu Fishermen Association, is recovering in Vila Central Hospital from a bullet wound in his left thigh.

Our correspondent Len Garae says Mr Kalatei believes he was targetted.

He says it is suspected to be in relation to the Association's fight to recoup funds allegedly owed to its members by a fishing company.

"Many of them are still fighting for their claims, they haven't got their money and one of them is the President of the Association who was shot. He has a suspect in mind but he cannot say anything without first talking to his lawyer. This is the first time in the country for a gun to be fired outside a courthouse - it has never happened before. And the police insist that it was an accident."

Vanuatu police are investigating the shooting.