18 Aug 2012

13 Phocea crew plead guilty in Vanuatu court

6:39 am on 18 August 2012

13 crew members from the detained mega yacht the Phocea have pleaded guilty to charges of breaching Vanuatu's customs and immigration laws.

The state prosecutor says this is just the beginning of the hearing on the Phocea issue and the captain of the yacht Richard Malaise and a woman known as Fabiola appeared on Friday to face multiple charges.

Details of the nationality of those appearing and specific charges brought have not been given as the police investigation is ongoing.

The 75 metre four-masted Phocea is still detained by Vanuatu authorities after it was raided and seized by police, immigration and customs late last month on suspicion of passport fraud and drugs trading.

The owner, Pascal Anh Quan Saken, who Vanuatu nominated as its honorary consul to Vietnam, left the country just before the raid.