26 Nov 2020

Vanuatu's Deputy PM questioned as witness numbers drop in high profile trial

12:52 pm on 26 November 2020

The prosecution in the corruption, bribery and perjury trial of a former Vanuatu's former prime minister has indicated it may reduce its number of witnesses.

Public prosecutor, Josiah Naigulevu, told the court yesterday that he proposed to have another meeting with the defending lawyers to reduce his witnesses under a new Memorandum of Agreement.

Crown lawyer, Josiah Naigulevu

Crown lawyer, Josiah Naigulevu Photo: RNZ Pacific / Hilaire Bule

There were 29 prosecutor witnesses listed for the trial but some of them didn't receive the summons to appear in court this week.

On Tuesday Naigulevu told the court they had 26 witnesses to testify in the Supreme Court trial.

Yesterday Naigulevu spent over three hours questioning the first witness and main complainant in the case, Deputy Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau.

Kalsakau is being cross-examined by the lawyers of the four defendants this morning.

Yesterday he told the court that during his term as Leader of the Opposition he deposited seven motions of no confidence against Salwai.

He claimed that his first motion in November 2016 was defeated in parliament because the government MPs who signed the motion withdrew their support.

He claimed his motion was defeated because Mr Salwai appointed two of the signatories as minister and parliamentary secretary.

It was revealed that in Kalsakau's motion there was a duplication of a signatures amid his claim that he had 28 MPs who supported the motion.

When asked if the MPs signed the motion in front of him, Kalsakau replied that he was not responsible to collect the signatures.

He told the court the current Minister of Public Utilities, Jay Ngwele, and former MP for Efate, Joshua Kalsakau, were responsible for the collection of signatures.

Ishmael Kalsakau, centre, outside the courthouse

Ishmael Kalsakau, centre, outside the courthouse Photo: RNZ Pacific / Hilaire Bule