19 May 2014

Chiefs in Vanuatu's Tanna overrule colleague on rape charge

7:49 pm on 19 May 2014

The main chiefs' body on Tanna in Vanuatu say allegations of gang rape must be heard by the courts.

This comes after the victim and her local chief asked prosecutors to drop the charges because the six alleged rapists had performed a custom settlement.

The Independent newspaper reports the custom settlement involved two large cattle, two large pigs and a quantity of kava.

But it reports that the Nikoletan Council of Chiefs, the supreme traditional body on Tanna, saying the law of the nation needs to be applied in this case.

The Council president, Chief Freeman Nariu, told the paper that every criminal case needs to be dealt with in court not through custom.

He says some of the people have gone beyond the power of custom and forgotten its value.