14 Jun 2018

Former Vanuatu MPs jailed on conspiracy charges

11:54 am on 14 June 2018

Vanuatu's Supreme Court has jailed six former members of parliament for conspiring to defeat the course of justice.

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Photo: 123RF

They were among a group of 14 MPs who were jailed on bribery and corruptions charges in 2015.

The men are Marcellino Pipite, Silas Yatan, John Amos, Tony Nari, Jonas James and Thomas Laken.

After being found guilty of the bribery charges in 2015, Pipite, who was speaker of parliament, used his temporary powers as acting president to pardon himself and the others.

That decision was subsequently overturned by the president, Baldwin Lonsdale, and ten of the group, as well as a lawyer, were later found guilty of conspiring to defeat the course of justice.

In April last year, while the men were still in jail on the bribery charges, the Court of Appeal overturned the conspiracy convictions.

However, the Public Prosecutor then filed for a retrial of conspiracy charges against the eleven.

According to Vanuatu's Daily Post newspaper, Justice Gustaaf Andree Wiltens yesterday handed each of the six men a jail term of three years and ten months after they pleaded guilty to conspiring to defeat the course of justice.

Justice Wiltens said all the men were intelligent and mature and should have known better than to breach conditions of their parole, which included being banned from taking part in politics.

He rejected their plea to suspend their sentences saying it would send the wrong type of message to the community.

Meanwhile, the five other defendants facing the same conspiracy charge have pleaded not guilty and their trial begins this week.

The five are Paul Telukluk, Arnold Prasad, Sebastien Harry, Jean-Yves Chabod, and lawyer Wilson Iauma.

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