11 Jailed Vanuatu MPs Due In Court

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Arrested on new charges after pardon overturned convictions

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 19, 2015) – This week is set to be another turbulent one in Vanuatu with the sentencing of 14 MPs convicted of bribery and a possible motion of no confidence in the government.

Eleven of the convicted MPs have spent the weekend in jail, after they were arrested on Friday on new charges.

Jamie Tahana reports.

After the MPs were convicted of the bribery charges a week ago, parliament's speaker Marcellino Pipite pardoned all but one of them while he was acting president.

On Friday, that pardon was overturned by the President, Baldwin Lonsdale, who has said Mr Pipite has acted unlawfully.

The Supreme Court then ordered police to re-arrest 11 of the MPs, including Mr Pipite, and three lawyers who had been advising them on conspiracy to defeat the course of justice.

They have spent the weekend at a correctional facility in Port Vila, ahead of a court appearance today where they are likely to seek bail.

All 14 MPs will appear in court on Thursday for sentencing in the bribery case, where they face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Meanwhile, the opposition is preparing a motion of no confidence that is likely to be filed with the deputy speaker, Samson Samsen, this week.

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