10 Mar 2010

Vanuatu Coroner says VMF needs to be investigated following prisoner's death

5:40 pm on 10 March 2010

The Vanuatu Coroner says the Government needs to rein in the police paramilitary unit, the Vanuatu Mobile Force.

This comes after an inquest into the death of a prisoner while in VMF custody.

Don Wiseman has more

"John Bule, a convicted rapist, had escaped and been at large for a month before being recaptured by the VMF. He was fit and healthy but after a VMF interrogation he was hospitalised with multiple injuries and died later the day he was recaptured. The Coroner, Justice Nevil Dawson, says police failed to properly investigate the death with none of the personnel closed involved interviewed during the formal inquiry. He says there needs to be a homicide investigation and those responsible prosecuted. Justice Dawson says many witnesses were less than frank and perjury investigations should also be carried out. He wants electronic recording of police interviews, and improved police training, not least to counter an unacceptable culture of violence. Justice Dawson was damning about the behaviour of some VMF staff, including attempts to intimidate him. He says there is no proper statutory authority for the VMF, yet it is a force with modern weapons that regards itself as above the law. He says Parliament need to consider what role the VMF should fill and ensure that it has proper political control over it."