Jailed politicians released on parole

Wednesday May 03, 2017 Written by Published in Regional

VANUATU – Ten former Vanuatu MPs jailed for bribery two years ago have been released on parole.

 

They were part of the 14 MPs convicted in late 2015 for taking money to cross the floor of parliament and change the government.

On their release, the director of the Correctional Services Johnny Marango was there to farewell them.

He said the 18 months they spent in jail was a “learning period” for his staff as it was the first time they had to deal with incarcerated former leaders in such big numbers.

In response, one of the jailed men, the former speaker of parliament Marcellino Pipite, said was no one was above the law.

He said they accepted that they were involved in an activity that was against the law.

The former MP said they were dealt with by the law and now released by the law.

Another former MP, Tony Nari, is still behind bars but will be eligible for parole in July while a former prime minister Moana Carcasses will be eligible for parole in October.

Last week, former prime minister Serge Vohor and a former MP Steven Kalsakau were released on parole.

The ten politicians released could potentially be sent back to prison on a related case.

Vanuatu’s Public Prosecutor this week filed for a retrial of conspiracy charges against the men including Tony Nari which were earlier this month quashed on a technicality.

After their conviction for the initial bribery charges in 2015 Pipite, as parliament speaker, immediately used his temporary powers as acting president to pardon himself and the others while the president Baldwin Lonsdale was overseas.

That decision was subsequently overturned by on his       return and the eleven former MPs were later found guilty of conspiring to defeat the course of justice.

They were in 2016 given new sentences in addition to the jail terms they were already serving for the bribery charges.

However earlier this month the Court of Appeal quashed the conspiracy convictions because the eleven had been tried as a group rather than as individuals.

However,  the Public Prosecutor Josaia Naigulevu this week said that the nature of the conspiracy offence remained the same and the former MPs were charged again as individuals.

They are expected to enter pleas in court next week

Carcasses, Vohor and Kalsakau are not among the group charged with conspiracy.

            - RNZI

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