Vanuatu PM’s Assistant Marae Makes Court Appearance In Australia

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Vanuatu PM’s Assistant Marae Makes Court Appearance In Australia Information scarce over allegations against private secretary

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, May 21, 2012) – Prime Minister Sato Kilman’s Private Secretary who was recently arrested in Australia, Clarence Marae, appeared in court on Wednesday of this week but no details of allegations were read out, according to AAP and PACNEWS.

Mr. Marae made no application for bail and will remain in custody until the matter is mentioned again later this month, according to AAP and PACNEWS sources.

He has been charged with one count of conspiring to defraud commonwealth. He was arrested on April 27 at Sydney airport by the AFP. He was a member of the Vanuatu Prime Minister delegation on the way to an official visit to the State of Israel.

Soon after his arrest at Sydney airport by the AFP, Marae was transferred to Brisbane.

He appeared before a Brisbane court on Wednesday May 16 but with no details of the allegations against him on charges of conspiracy to defraud commonwealth.

Despite several attempts, Daily Post could not get response by Australian authorities if Mr. Marae has been allowed to make contact to his families and or government officials in Vanuatu.

Marae, the Private Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office was part of Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman’s delegation en route to Israel when he was arrested by the AFP at Sydney airport.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, the Vanuatu Daily Post reports that someone who traveled with the delegation to Australia claims protocol officers in Sydney 'lied' to the prime minister. According to the source, the delegation was moved past the airport's normal VIP lounge and was told by protocol officers that they were being escorted to a larger VIP area. However, they were instead made to fill out immigration forms, at which time the prime minister was made aware that Marae had been arrested.]

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