Vanuatu Police Officers Charged With Multiple Offenses

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16 officers allegedly took part in illegal arrests of officials

Ricky Binihi

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 7, 2012) – Police are charging a former Vanuatu Police Commissioner and 15 other high ranking officers with incite to mutiny, mutiny, kidnapping, and false imprisonment.

Between 4am and 4:30am Police raided the homes of suspended members of the Vanuatu Police Force and arrested eight officers while two others who were on the suspect list surrendered to the Police Force before lunch time yesterday.

The group is part of the 16 police officers who allegedly attempted to arrest the then-Acting Prime Minister, Ham Lini, the former Minister of Internal Affairs George Wells and the Head of State, Police Chief of Staff Ron Tamtam told Daily Post.

The Police want to bring them in for questioning on allegations they executed an illegal order of the former Commissioner, Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Bong, that saw Acting Police Commissioner Arthur Caulton and some senior policemen put behind bars.

"The order was executed the day before Commissioner Bong’s term as Vanuatu Police commissioner ended on 30th September but the order did not follow the procedures," Police Chief of Staff said.

Ironically the arrest of the suspended police and the attempted arrest of the former Police Commissioner Bong were executed in a similar manner like that of the arrest of Acting Police Commissioner Arthur Caulton.

One day before Commissioner Bong’s term in office ended an order was executed for the arrest of Acting Commissioner Caulton on September 29. One day before the term of the Acting Police Commissioner ended today an order for the arrest of former Police Commissioner Bong and members of the Police Force was executed.

And the Head of State President Iolu Abbil should appoint a member of the Police Force which is nominated to him by Chairman of the Police Service Commission in consultation with the minister. Daily Post understands that the Police portfolio is now under Prime Minister Sato Kilman.

Meanwhile, former Commissioner Bong, two very senior members of the Force and two male are still at large in Efate but Police Chief of Staff promised they will "hunt" them down and bring them for questioning.

Police was supposed to lodge an application in the Courts to have the arrested members of the Force remanded in custody yesterday evening, but Mr. Tamtam said the arrested officers were released at 5pm.

They will however appear in Court as charged. The charge of mutiny is very serious and has a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Meanwhile, one of the senior officers arrested has stated after their release outside the police station that their release only came after their statements were taken.

He said they have been told that they will appear in court after the "prime suspects" in the case have been taken into custody to have their statements taken.

Asked who the prime suspects were he said at this stage everyone arrested are facing the same charges and he does not know who the prime suspects were.

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