Jailed Vanuatu MPs Have Time Added To Sentences For Conspiracy Convictions

11 get more time; length of additional sentence depended upon severity of role 

By Thompson Marango

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Sept. 30, 2016) – Eleven of the jailed politicians serving time for bribery had additional years added to their jail term, after they were sentenced for conspiracy yesterday morning.

Marcelino Pipite who pardoned himself and former colleague MPs after they were convicted of Bribery and corruption last year was handed the longest term of four years imprisonment.

Lawyer Wilson Iauma is the only convict in the conspiracy case to have his two years and nine months sentence suspended. Iauma is also the sole convict of the case who is not part of the group of former MPs who are currently serving jail term for the 2015 bribery and corruption case.

Factors such as being a first time offender, a prominent chief in his community, and only a junior associate working under supervision of senior lawyers were taken into account by Supreme Court Judge Richard Chetwynd.

Justice Chetwynd referred to conspiracy to defeat the court of justice as a very serious offence, as the convicts were intervening with the justice system itself.

When handling down the sentence orally yesterday, Chetwynd categorised the convicts to two different categories.

Pipite who issued the pardon in his capacity as Acting President and Tony Nari were classified as the main offenders who initiated the conspiracy. Former Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Tony Nari was categorized with Pipite because the preparation of the pardon was carried out in his former ministerial office and he was also the main person calling most of the shots at that time.

Pipite was given a four years imprisonment term and Nari three years. Nari had an extra six months removed from his sentence after the Judge took into account the fact that he was remorseful for his actions, a mitigating fact his colleague lacked.

The second category set out by Chetwynd consist of the other convicts who assisted and facilitated the pardon.

The differences in their imprisonment term reflected their roles towards last year’s pardoning and also mitigating factors.

Thomas Laken is another MP who was also handed a three years imprisonment sentence.

Arnold Prasad, John Amos, Paul Telukluk, Sebastien Harry, Tony Wright, and Jean-Yves Chabod were sentenced to two years and three months each.

Jonas James was also initially given two years and three months imprisonment but this was deducted to two years because of his cooperation with investigators.

Silas Iatan was given two years and six months but he was considered remorseful for his actions by the Judge therefore three months was deducted from his sentence.

Age, illness and good characters were some of the mitigating factors presented during the sentencing submissions of the convicts but were not taken into consideration by the Judge.

Chetwynd saw fit to give the convicts imprisonment sentences because although they were leaders, their good characters and reputations were lost when they were convicted last year. They are not first time offenders.

The sentences will be served consecutively with their existing bribery sentence.

With the recent sentence on the previous bribery case sentence, Pipite now has a total of seven years imprisonment, Nari-six years and six months, Laken-six years, Prasad-five years and three months, Amos- five years and three months, James-five years, Telukluk-five years and three months, Harry-five years and three months, Wright-five years and three months, Chabod-five years and three months, and Yatan-five years and three months.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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