19 Dec 2011

Vanuatu probes plans to export taboo stones

10:45 pm on 19 December 2011

Vanuatu police and the Vanuatu Cultural Center are investigating alleged plans to export, illegally, sacred and taboo stones from northwest Malekula.

The Centre's director, Marcelin Ambong, says he is aware that some of the stones are in Port Vila ready to be shipped, reportedly to Las Vegas in the US.

Police and chiefs of Malekula have managed to get some of those stones back before they were put on a vessel at Litzlitz wharf in Lakatoro.

They are now kept at Malekula Cultural Center in Lakatoro.

Mr Ambong says they have contacted shipping agencies to be aware of any suspicious container export.

About five years ago, police and the Vanuatu Cultural Center jointly launched an investigation into the illicit trafficking of Vanuatu artifacts.

At that time, they managed to seize a kava stone from Vao village worth 1.8 million US dollars.