24 Aug 2012

Vanuatu authorities to seek tougher sentences for Phocea crew

4:18 pm on 24 August 2012

Vanuatu state prosecutors are appealing rulings by two magistrates on breaches of the Customs Act by crew of the yacht, Phocea, as too lenient.

Last Thursday, 13 crew were fined 850 US dollars each after they pleaded guilty to disembarking the Phocea before it had received official clearance from customs and immigration.

On Monday this week, American student Faviola Imgrad Brugger Dadis was ordered to pay 1400 US dollars for breaching customs laws and obstructing police.

The skipper of the Phocea, Richard Malaise, who is believed to be Swedish national, is due to appear in the Magistrate's Court next Thursday.

State Prosecutors say they have launched an appeal and will be seeking a court order to prevent the 14 crew members leaving the country.

Among the 14 crew are 3 Czechs, 2 Serbians, 1 Dutch, 1 British, 1 Belgian and an American and the rest are Asian nationals, and their passports have already been surrendered.