Bribery Trial Of Vanuatu MPs Draws Crowd

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Opposition leader accused of attempting to bribe lawmakers

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 14, 2015) – The supreme court in Vanuatu is overflowing with spectators as a trial of 16 MPs charged with bribery enters its second week.

The politicians are alleged to have received bribes a year ago from the then opposition leader, Moana Carcasses, who is now deputy prime minister.

Moana Carcasses was allegedly trying to procure the MPs support before a planned vote of no confidence to remove the then prime minister Jo Natuman.

It is alleged that US$319,000 was involved.

Radio New Zealand International's Vanuatu correspondent, Hilaire Bule, says it is the first bribery case involving the country's leaders and about a hundred people are observing the trial in Port Vila.

He says a sound system has been set up outside the courtroom so those who cannot fit inside can hear what is happening.

Mr Bule says the trial is expected to last another two weeks.

Earlier this month the finance minister, Willie Jimmy, pleaded guilty to the charges and was convicted last week for breaching the Leadership and Penal Codes.

He has since been excused from the trial.

Mr Bule says the prosecution has called at least 10 witnesses so far with over 40 expected to give evidence.

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