Two Vanuatu Politicians Released From Prison After 18 Months

Both served half of the 3-year sentence imposed upon them for corruption and bribery of officials 
By Jane Joshua and Thompson Marango

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, April 22, 2017) – Serge Vohor and Steven Kalsakau, have bid goodbye to the daily routine roll call and incarceration, after 18 months in jail.

Ifira Paramount Chief, Mantoi Kalsakau Paunimanu welcomed Mr. Kalsakau to his home yesterday, accompanied by the Director of Correctional Services, Johnny Marango and Correctional Services officers.

It was an emotional reunion and it was with humility that Mr. Kalsakau stood up and addressed the paramount chief and people of Ifira.

“Eighteen months behind bars, is a long time,” he said. “I thought it was the end of the world.

“On my first day at the Ex-British jail I did not sleep.

“I could not sleep at all.

“But through prayer I realized what it was and gradually came out.

“I thank God, because it was through Him alone.”

The former MP says at times, one tends to think very highly when one is in power.

“When you think that everything is yours and you don’t worry about the law. But the law is always there to correct us.

“I am happy to say that I accepted what happened to me as a leader of the people of Ifira.

“I come to tell you I am sorry and I ask for your forgiveness.

“I accept full responsibility, I do not blame anyone, I blame myself.

“To the paramount chief, my wife and children, the council of chief and people-I am sorry.”

He acknowledged the Director of Correctional Services for accompanying and handing him over to my chief and community.

“I will respect the law and all conditions attached with the parole. I know I have one year left, one of my hands is still tied but both will be free,” he said.

Over the 18 months, new relationships and an understanding was forged between the inmates and the Correctional Services officers.

“I know it was not easy for you when we- the 14 former MPs were incarcerated.

“I know it was not easy for you to deal with politicians,” he said.

“But thank you for your understanding and patience.”

When receiving the former MP from the Correctional Services yesterday, chief Mantoi Kalsakau Paunimanu told Kalsakau that he and the people of Ifira are happy to have him back into their community.

“As the chief of Ifira, i am receiving back to the community one of my child, a community Ma’au (leader), and my brother,” Chief Kalsakau told the Correctional Services Director.

He thanked the Correctional Services Director and Officers for taking care of the former Parliamentarian and his colleague during their term in the Correctional Centre.

In response, Director Marango said the Department has worked a lot with the former MPs in terms of rehabilitation and yesterday’s ceremony is an attempt for integration.

“It is a process that facilitates offenders back to their communities carried out by the Department, to ensure that they are accepted by their community,” said Mr Marango.

The process is carried out every time an offender is released back into the community, preferably with the involvement of the chief.

He thanked the Ifira Chief for playing the important part that demonstrates that the Ifira community accepts a community leader, family, and former national leaders.

Kalsakau was reminded by the Correctional Director about the conditions that comes with his release.

Kalsakau was released yesterday after serving 18 months behind bars, half of the 3-year sentence imposed upon him for one count of corruption and bribery of officials contrary to S.73 (1) of the Penal Code Act in that he did corruptly accept a bribe namely VT1 million from former MP, Moana Carcasses.

He first entered the national political arena under the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP) ticket in 2002 but switched to the Reunification of Movement for Change (RMC) before his conviction in 2015. In 2011 he was appointed the Minister of Lands.

Kalsakau and former Vanuatu Prime Minister, Serge Vohor were seen being driven off the Correctional Services yesterday morning by UMP Vice President, Opposition Leader, Ishmael Kalsakau.

The former Efate Rural MP was transported to Iririki Wharf where he was accompanied by Correctional Services Director and Officers by boat to Ifira.

According to the Director, a similar ceremony will be officiated on Santo for Mr Vohor.

The former Santo Rural MP is one of the longest serving politicians also convicted in the bribery case.

He first entered parliament 1983 and served twice as the country’s prime minister and held nine ministerial positions in different ministries over the years.

He has also served half of his 3-year sentence, enabling him to receive parole.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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