VANUATU'S PUBLIC PROSECUTOR LINI-LEO ASKS TO STEP ASIDE FROM POLICE MUTINY

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (September 11, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Vanuatu's public prosecutor has asked to be permitted to step aside from a high-profile case involving more than two dozen police officers on mutiny charges, calling on the government to find a replacement overseas.

Heather Lini-Leo said through earlier work she developed a working relationship with most of the officers on trial, creating a conflict of interest.

Twenty-six police officers face mutiny and incitement-to-mutiny charges over their arrest of police commissioner Mael Apisai and 14 senior government officials on August 4th.

The officers face a preliminary hearing in the Port Vila Magistrates court on September 19th, while the mutiny trial is expected to begin in October.

Mrs. Lini-Leo said she will step aside as soon as the government can find a suitable foreign replacement.

"Most of these people I know I have worked with.

"Therefore, in the best interest of the case, and on an issue on conflict of interest, I have sought for the government to get assistance from an overseas lawyer to continue with the matter," she said.

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