3 Oct 2016

Former Vanuatu PM wants jailed MPs pardoned

7:28 am on 3 October 2016

A former prime minister of Vanuatu says 14 members of the previous government should be pardoned and released from prison.

Former Vanuatu Prime Minister Barak Sope.

Former Vanuatu Prime Minister Barak Sope. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The former MPs were jailed in December after they were found guilty of receiving money to cross the floor of parliament and change the government.

Last Thursday, 11 of the men were sentenced to extra jail time in relation to the decision taken by the former speaker Marcelino Pipite to pardon himself and his colleagues while he was acting president.

That decision was later overturned by the president, Baldwin Lonsdale, who dissolved parliament and called snap elections.

But Barak Sope, who was prime minister from 1999 until 2001, and was later convicted - then pardoned - on charges of forging government bonds, said the former MPs should be treated differently from ordinary people.

"Well in custom, leaders can do that. It may not be OK, but in custom you have to treat leaders differently," he said.

"They should not have these big sentences imposed on them. If I was the head of state, I would pardon them tomorrow."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs