11 Sep 2012

Vanuatu government official jailed over illegal citizenship saga

1:37 pm on 11 September 2012

A Vanuatu magistrate, Rita Naviti, has jailed a goverment official, Solomon Mangau, for two years for complicity in the illegal granting of citizenship.

Mangau had pleaded guilty to a charge of complicity in assisting Tongan national, Michael Tangataolakepa, and Samoan national, Ira Mateupage Donald, to get their Vanuatu certificate of citizenship within a week of their arrival in the country.

He admitted he helped them fill in their application forms and deliver them to the citizenship office.

Mangau said outside the court that he is surprised that Mr Donald, Mr Tangataolakepa and the former chairman of the Citizenship Commission, Joe Melson Arnambat, have escaped conviction.

The trial for that trio was abandoned last week after Judge Naviti refused to grant the prosecution an additional adjournment.

Mangau has appealed his sentence and been released on bail.