7 Mar 2011

Vanuatu publisher fears inaction after assault by minister

2:35 pm on 7 March 2011

A Vanuatu newspaper publisher says he's not confident action will be taken against the government minister he's accused of leading an assault on him last Friday.

Vanuatu Daily Post publisher Marc Neil Jones says the Minister of Public Utilities Harry Iauko barged into his office with a group of about eight men, angry at criticism of him that had been published in the paper.

The publisher says he was assaulted, and while he could not see who committed the attack, the Minister was in complete control of the situation.

"I was punched, kicked, my head was smashed against the brick wall and someone grabbed me by the throat and all the time Iauko was yelling this would be the last time that I would write anything negative about him."

Mr Neil Jones says the police did not arrest anyone and it's unclear if they will press charges, and he may seek to take a private prosecution against the Minister.

He says the government may also be reluctant to take action against Mr Iauko as its numbers are shaky.

A government spokesperson says the Prime Minister Sato Kilman is reviewing his options in relation to the incident.