4 Sep 2012

Warrant for arrest of witness in Vanuatu illegal citizenship court case

3:01 pm on 4 September 2012

A Vanuatu magistrate, Rita Naviti, has issued a warrant for arrest of the deputy principal immigration officer, James Narwayeng.

Mr Narwayeng is to be a prosecution witness in the Magistrates Court in Port Vila of Tongan Michael Tangataolakepa, and Samoan Ira Mateupage Donald, who are alleged to have illegally acquired Vanuatu citizenship certificates.

They are being charged alongside the former chair of the Citizenship Commission, Joe Melson Arnambat.

The Samoan and Tongan were granted Vanuatu citizenship earlier this year after being in the country less than a month.

Under Vanuatu laws, a foreigner must be in the country ten years before he can apply for citizenship.

All three are accused of obtaining citizenship by false and misleading statements.

Another prosecution witness from the citizenship office, Melanie Atuari told the Court that Mr Arnambat approved the application from the two men in February.

She says the applications had not met the criteria - there was no police clearance from their respective countries or Vanuatu police and their passports were not with their application forms as required.