3 Oct 2016

Ex-PM says jailed Vanuatu MPs should be pardoned

From , 4:05 pm 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, Former Vanuatu Foreign Minister, leader of the Melanesian Progressive Party

Former Vanuatu Prime Minister Barak Sope Photo: RNZI / 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.

On Thursday, eleven of the men were sentenced to extra jail time in relation to the decision taken by the former speaker, Marcellino 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, says the former MPs are being made an example of.

He told Jamie Tahana the judiciary has completely ignored ni-Vanuatu custom, and more respect should be shown to leaders and chiefs.