20 May 2019

Defendants in Vanuatu human trafficking case lose lawyer

2:44 pm on 20 May 2019

Two people charged in connection with one of Vanuatu's biggest human trafficking cases have lost their legal counsel.

A group of Bangladeshi men stuck in limbo in Port Vila

A group of Bangladeshi men stuck in Vanuatu Photo: Shahin Khan

Sekdah Somon and Buxoo Nabilah Bibi have been detained and face more than 300 charges over their alleged trafficking of dozens of Bangladeshi men.

A group of 101 migrants have been under state care in Port Vila since November and efforts are underway to repatriate them to Bangladesh.

The Vanuatu Daily Post reports the defendants' lawyer, Andrew Bal, filed to cease to act on their behalf last week.

The pair have told the Vanuatu High Court they are working to get a foreign counsel to represent them.

Without legal representation, a case hearing last Tuesday was postponed until tomorrow.

A trial date has not yet been set.

Last week, Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek told them any foreign lawyer would have to make an application through a local lawyer to use their license.

Two other people, Palas Hosan and Anowar Hosain, have also been charged in connection with the case but face only seven charges.

According to the Daily Post, these include traffic human trafficking, slavery, money laundering, threats to kill, intentional assault, employing a non-citizen without a work permit and furnishing false information to a labour officer.

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