9 Jul 2011

Journalist organisation criticises small fine given to Vanuatu's Iauko

7:55 am on 9 July 2011

The International Federation of Journalists has raised concern that a Vanuatu cabinet minister received only a small fine after pleading guilty for his role in the assault on Vanuatu Daily Post publisher Marc Neil-Jones.

Cabinet minister Harry Iauko was fined a total of about 150 US dollars after he entered guilty pleas to aiding and abetting the assault on Mr Neil-Jones.

Seven other men were also fined for their roles in the assault.

The IFJ says that under Vanuatu law the sentence for this kind of assault, where no permanent damage is caused to the victim, can attract a prison term of up to 12 months.

The journalists body's Asia-Pacific director, Jacqueline Park, says it's disappointed that this senseless attack has resulted in relatively lenient sentences, imposed after extensive delays to the legal process.

She says the IFJ is also concerned by reports that charges of unlawful assembly, unlawful entry and criminal trespass against the minister were dropped after he entered a not guilty plea.