20 Aug 2012

Phocea crew members appear in Vanuatu court

10:19 am on 20 August 2012

13 crew members of yacht embroiled in scandal in Vanuatu have paid fines of more than US$14,000.

The police raided the Phocea on suspicion of fake passport manufacturing and drugs smuggling.

On Thursday, the crew members pleaded guilty to a charge of breaching the customs, immigration and quarantine act.

The Magistrate Rita Naviti ordered them to pay a fine of nearly US$1100.

Vanuatu authorities have now returned their passports which were seized during a joint raid by police, customs and quarantine.

One of the crew members said outside court that all the crew boarded the yacht in Tonga.

He said that he is happy to return home.

An American national will today appear today, having already pleaded guilty to one charge.

The captain of Phocea, Richard Malaise, will appear in Court this week.