17 Mar 2010

Vanuatu Police Commissioner dismisses criticism from coroner

11:04 pm on 17 March 2010

Vanautu's Police Commissioner, Joshua Bong, has dismissed criticism of him in a Coroner's report as baseless.

Mr Bong was the head of the police's paramilitary unit, the Vanuatu Mobile Force, this time last year when a recaptured prisoner died after a violent interrogation by VMF officers.

Don Wiseman has more:

"The Coroner, Justice Nevin Dawson, conducted an inquest and in a report detailed the lack of co-operation by VMF officers, who he says were evasive and self-serving, with some possibly guilty of perjury. Justice Dawson says Mr Bong was unhelpful and indifferent, and says if it turns out a document he produced at the inquest was concocted, this would amount to the most extraordinary obstructive behaviour towards a judicial body by the country's leading law enforcement officer. But Mr Bong has ignored these elements in the report and is blaming the Vanuatu and New Zealand governments for the man's death. He says both governments were meant to be putting proper prison facilities in place, and if this had been done there would have been no escape, no death and no inquiry. He says calls for him to resign are baseless. But Justice Dawson had expressed concern at an armed force that placed itself above the law and had called on the government to reconsider the role of the VMF."