4 Apr 2018

Retrial of former Vanuatu politicians kicks off today

12:32 pm on 4 April 2018

The retrial of 11 former politicians in Vanuatu begins today, with the prosecution seeking to have them again convicted of conspiracy.

A statue at the entrance to Vanuatu's parliament in the capital, Port Vila.

A statue at the entrance to Vanuatu's parliament in the capital, Port Vila. Photo: RNZI / Jamie Tahana

The 11, including a former speaker, are being retried on a conspiracy charge related to the constitutional crisis of two years ago, which led to the toppling of the government.

Fourteen MPs were convicted in late 2015 after being found to have received money to cross the floor of parliament and change the government.

One of the MPs, Marcellino Pipite, who was parliament's peaker at the time, followed that up by using his powers as acting president to pardon himself and the others.

That decision was subsequently overturned by then-President, Baldwin Lonsdale, and the 14 MPs were jailed for the earlier corruption charges.

Eleven of the MPs were later found guilty of conspiring to defeat the course of justice.

But the Court of Appeal last year dropped those conspiracy convictions because the 11 men had been tried as a group rather than as individuals.

The public prosecutor immediately decided to pursue a retrial, which will begin today.

Those being retried are: Marcellino Pipite, Paul Telukluk, Silas Yatan, Tony Nari, John Amos, Arnold Prasad, Tony Wright, Sebastien Harry, Thomas Laken, Jonas James, Jean Yves Chabod and Lawyer Wilson Iauma.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs