18 Aug 2016

Guilty judgment for Vanuatu MPs sets 'significant' precedent

11:36 am on 18 August 2016

A Melanesian governance expert says a ruling that 11 former Vanuatu MPs are guilty of conspiring to defeat the course of justice sets a significant precedent.

The MPs are currently serving jail terms after last year being found guilty of bribery for receiving money to cross the floor of parliament and change the government.

The conspiracy charge arose after the then speaker Marcellino Pipite pardoned himself and his colleagues of the bribery convictions.

James Batley

ANU Policy Fellow, James Batley. Photo: DFAT

Australian National University Policy Fellow James Batley said the latest judgement by the Supreme Court reinforces the earlier convictions

"Certainly in terms of the signal that it sends and the precedent it sets for finding politicians guilty of serious charges, it's very significant in Vanuatu's history and that of our region."

But James Batley said he would not be surprised to see the latest ruling appealed as that would be characteristic of the way political figures behave in Vanuatu.

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