VANUATU LOOKS OUTSIDE COURTS TO SETTLE POLICE IMPASSE

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (August 30, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Vanuatu's public prosecutor has called off the arrests of 20 police officers wanted for mutiny.

Five police and naval officers appeared in court yesterday on charges of mutiny but 20 failed to turn up.

The officers were charged with mutiny after they arrested Vanuatu's former police commissioner, Maile Apisai, on August 4, whose appointment they disputed.

National broadcaster VBTC has reported that public prosecutor Heather Lini-Leo wants the arrests called off until all parties involved in the impasse resolve their differences.

Ms. Lini-Leo has written to the paramilitary Vanuatu Mobile Force asking them not to execute the court order until the VMF and police come to the negotiating table.

The officers who did appear in court were released on bail and are due to appear again in court on September 6.

The Council of Ministers met yesterday to discuss the escalating tension between the country's security forces.

A reconciliation ceremony has been planned between the police and the mobile force officers in the capital, Port Vila.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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