VANUATU CANDIDATE ARRESTED DURING POLLS

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Iauko bailed out, claims no warrant for arrest

PORT VILA (Vanuatu Daily Post, Aug. 26, 2008) – Vanuaaku Party’s candidate for Tanna Constituency, Harry Iauko was able to bail out his fellow VP contender for the Port Vila Constituency, Lord Mayor, Paul Avock Hungai after Police arrested and remanded him at the No 6 cell at the Police headquarters Sunday.

Daily Post was told that Avock was released on a "police bail" after the Prosecutions Office failed to apply to the Magistrates Court to remand him for further investigations over allegations of bribery over the sale of public land at Fatumauru Bay.

The arrest not only raises much speculation in Port Vila and Tanna but may reveal a plot by some senior VP politicians who allegedly wanted Iauko and Avock out of the picture in the wake of the coming polls.

The two have pointed accusing finger at some of the old guards of the Vanua’aku Pati.

"Joe Natuman, Sela Molisa, Nikenike Vurobaravu are behind this and no matter what the Police have tried to establish, these are the very pe

ople behind this plan," Iauko told Daily Post at the Avock camp at Freshwota.

"We have confirmation that the complainant is the Minister for Internal Affairs," he said.

Hw said while the plot might have singled them out, he added he was a step ahead of the old school and was determined not to let his persecutors repeat what happened to Walter Lini and Barak Sope during the early VP days.

Iauko believed all this happened for one reason and it was all about their growing support in their respective constituencies since the declaration of eligible candidates was made.

"I was able to re-group to withstand this pressure and this I was able to prove to these leaders that our young team only wants what is best for the party. We believe in service delivery, something that was not able to reach our over 16,000 supporters," he said.

Iauko said his sources confirmed that the Police action derived from a meeting held by the VP President Edward Natapei and Joe Natuman after the two senior politicians found out that their support base may be dwindling in Port Vila and Tanna.

Minister Natuman reportedly was on the first flight back to Tanna when Police tried to arrest Iauko yesterday.

Police were also seen searching the Air Vanuatu ATR42 aircraft for Iauko at the Bauerfield airport before the aircraft was scheduled to leave for Tanna.

Avock confirmed to Daily Post that his lawyer will sue the government for damages worth over Vt10 million for what he claimed as "unlawful arrest".

"I was in the No 6 cell for 15 hours. There was no warrant of arrest, but I was told to give myself in and taken to the Police headquarters. I will sue them for defamation and credibility of my status not only as Lord Mayor but as a proposed candidate in the Port Vila Constituency," said Avock.

However Police told Daily Post Sunday that the arrest followed investigations by Police after a complaint lodged July 22 this year.

"After our investigations, we found evidence that implicated Avock and Iauko," Commander South Superintendent John Taleo insisted.

Police said the case against Iauko and Avock will be heard on the 17 September at 8.30am at the Magistrates Court but Daily Post did not verify this before press time with the courts.

Police were also told by the Prosecutions office who were supposed to apply for the remand of Avock and Iauko that the case could not go ahead and the charges against them needed amending.

"We are very disappointed with this. Police have completed investigations and Prosecutions have again failed to carry this through. The charges are clear, and we believe there is a case against Avock and Iauko," explained Taleo.

But later yesterday evening, Iauko told Daily Post that the Police assumptions and actions cannot hold as there is no court order against them

"We have been told to report to court on the 17.

But it is not up to the Police to set dates that is the court’s prerogative.

"So far we have not received any court summons, so I am not sure what really are the police saying?" Iauko said.

Daily Post was informed that the arrest was over allegations of bribery and corruption under the penal code

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