Vanuatu Prosecutor Plans To Retry 10 MPs For Conspiracy

Conviction in conspiracy charges overturned; group eligible for parole on bribery conviction

By Thompson Marango

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, April 26, 2017) – The Public Prosecutor has filed information for a retrial of the infamous conspiracy case on Monday afternoon, the same day the Parole Board granted parole for 10 of the jailed politicians.

Former MPs Marcellino Pipite, Paul Telukluk, Silas Yatan, John Amos, Arnold Prasad, Tony Wright, Sebastien Harry, Thomas Laken Jonas James, and Jean-Yves Chabod will walk out of the Correctional Services Low Risk facility this Friday, after serving 18 months behind bars for bribery and corruption to defeat the course of justice.

Director of Correctional Services, Johnny Marango told Daily Post that the 10 former MPs are eligible for parole, after serving half of the terms for their bribery sentence.

Their release was triggered by the setting aside of the conspiracy case conviction earlier this month by the Court of Appeal.

But the notice for a retrial by the Public Prosecutor means that all the 10 former MPs ready to be released on parole this Friday,including Tony Nari who will be eligible for parole on July, and lawyer Wilson Iauma will return to the Supreme Court for plea on May 2 this year.

According to the Director of Correctional Services, Steven Kalsakau and Serge Vohor who were released last week won’t be affected because they were not part of the conspiracy case.

“The nature of the offence remains the same, but the particulars in the Information have changed,” Public Prosecutor Josaia Naigulevu informed Daily Post yesterday afternoon.

“All those previously charged are charged again. They will go to Court on the 2nd of May for their pleas to be taken.”

The 12 defendants were charged with one count each of “conspiracy to defeat the course of Justice contrary to section 79 (a) of the Penal Code [CAP 135].

Particulars of the offence stated that the defendants “on the 10th of October, 2015 at Port Vila conspired to prevent and defeat the course of justice, in that: on the said day at the Mangoes Resort, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities office and elsewhere, you jointly or severally assented, devised or contrived the issue of pardons for yourselves, which pardon to be issued by one of you in order to defeat the pending proceedings against you in the bribery trial in which conviction were entered against you a day earlier on the 9th October 2015 of bribery and corruption of public officials, and its final outcome”.

The case was registered yesterday as Criminal Case No. 1005/2017.

When setting aside the Conviction of the defendants of the initial trial, the Court of Appeal stated that it “is because the trial judge did not consider whether all the elements of the offence were made out in relation to each individual appellant”.

The Court of Appeal also stated that “it is a matter for the Public Prosecutor whether he continues with the Information so that a retrial takes place in the Supreme Court in relation to the events of 9 – 10 October 2015”.

Meanwhile the Correctional Services Director said the while the prosecution will continue with a retrial, it won’t stop the process of parole because it is part of the justice system.

“If the retrial finds them guilty and resentence the defendants, they will be recalled to serve their sentence,” he added.

The sentence set out by the original trial were imposed as follows:(1) Pipite – 4 years imprisonment; (2) Nari – 3 years imprisonment; (3) Laken – 3 years imprisonment;

(4) Yatan – 2 years and 6 months imprisonment; (5) Chabod – 2 years and 3 months imprisonment; (6) Telukluk – 2 years and 3 months imprisonment; (7) Amos – 2 years and 3 months imprisonment; (8) Prasad – 2 years and 3 months imprisonment; (9) Wright – 2 years and 3 months imprisonment; (10) Harry – 2 years and 3 months imprisonment; (11) James – 2 years imprisonment; and (12) Iauma – 2 years imprisonment (suspended for two years and 200 hours community work).

Vanuatu Daily Post
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