PROSECUTION PRESENTS CASE IN VANUATU MUTINY TRIAL

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Nov. 18, 2002 – Radio Australia)---The Vanuatu police mutiny trial has been told that four senior police officers were about to be disciplined in August when they led an operation to arrest their newly appointed commissioner and 14 other people, including Vanuatu’s attorney general.

The prosecution says it will present documentary evidence to the court in the form of plans for operation procedure, the early morning roundup of the 15 who were taken to police headquarters in Port Vila and locked up.

Outlining the state's case against the eight former police officers, the lead prosecutor, Mark Hobart, said he would show that their actions were not some noble effort to preserve the integrity of the Vanuatu police force but rather a grab for power.

He said the man who'd been chosen by a selection panel to be the police commissioner, Holi Simon, but who was overlooked when the government appointed Mael Apisai, moved with others against Apisai to preserve their employment prospects.

Hobart said Simon, who'd been acting police commissioner, refused to hand over command. He said Apisai could get no support from other senior officers, including the head of the Vanuatu mobile force, Abijack Marikambo.

He said rumors spread that Apisai was about to sack 35 officers but Apisai would testify he intended to discipline only four.

Hobart said the state's case was that the eight accused became involved in a joint-criminal enterprise.

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

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