Supreme Court Sentences Each Convicted MPs To 3-4 years Imprisonment 

THE SUPREME COURT OF VANUATU delivered its sentencing for the 14 convicted Members of Parliament this morning in court. While a peaceful crowd gathered outside eagerly waiting to witness what was sure to happen in the next hour or so a company of Police and Paramilitary (VMF) Officers kept a watchful eye all around.

Justice Mary Sey told the convicted MPs in court today before delivering the sentences that, “you were given power and authority as leaders of this nation, and in that comes trust, but you betrayed that trust, the public’s trust in you as leaders.”

Justice Mary Say continued to say that “the act of bribery needs to be weeded out in Vanuatu, and its penalties which you the members of parliament have passed in parliament must be enforced”.

“This case will set a precedent for future matters relating to bribery,” Justice Mary Sey said.

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Police bus arrives at the Correctional Center

Sentences;

Moana Carcasses Kalosil MP for Port Vila who offered bribery in the form of VT 1million to the now convicted Members of Parliament was charged with 18 counts and was given a sentence of 4 years imprisonment by the Supreme Court.

Tony Nari, MP for Pentecost was charged with two counts and was sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment.

Former Minister of Lands inside the Police Bus

Former Minister of Lands inside the Police Bus

Marcellino Pipite, MP for Santo Rural was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Paul Barthelemy Telukluk MP for Malekula was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment. 

Sebastien Harry MP for Tanna was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Serge Vohor Rialuth MP for Santo Rural was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Antony Wright MP for Port Vila was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

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Convicted MP’s inside Police Bus.

Jonas James MP for Paama was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

John Amos MP for Tongoa was charged with one count and was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Thomas Lakin MP for Tanna was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Steven Kalsakau MP for Efate Rural was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Silas Yatan MP for Tanna was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Arnold Prasad MP for Santo was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Jean Yves Chabod MP for Port Vila was charged with one count and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.

Police Bus leaves the Court for the Correctional Centre with the convicted MPs.

Police Bus leaves the Court for the Correctional Centre with the convicted MPs.

Willie Jimmy Tapangararua MP for Port Vila who pleaded guilty earlier, he received a suspended sentence from imprisonment.

“However,” stated the Judge, “let this be a lesson and a reminder. That you are hereby warned that you are not going to jail today, but any reoffending in the next two years will immediately resort in your having to serve this sentence of 20 months in imprisonment in addition to any other penalties that may be imposed for your reoffending”.

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An emotional Willie Jimmy leaves earlier after having his imprisonment sentence suspended by the Supreme Court.

The judge said sentences are to be effective immediately; however the convicts have 14 days to file an appeal case.

All the convicts are now being held at the Correctional Center near the Dumbea Hall.

The MPs were convicted for accepting bribery offers in the form of VT 1million vatu from Moana Carcasses Kalosil in 2014 to oust the then government through a no confidence motion against the then Prime Minister Joe Natuman.

To view or download the full document of the Sentencing click here: Bribery Case Sentencing.

AUDIO INTERVIEW: Tess Netwon Cain, political analyst at Vanuatu-based Devpacific think tank, talks with Radio New Zealand International after the sentencing: Click here to listen. 

(Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/201775748/jail-terms-begin-for-14-mps-in-vanuatu)

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Supreme Court: Pardon Instrument Unconstitutional

THE SUPREME COURT OF VANUATU has quashed the Pardon Instrument that Pipite had signed on 10 October, Justice Saksak declared it unconstitutional and ruled that Presidents Revocation Order is constitutional.

“Mercy is not the subject of legal rights. Mercy begins when legal rights end”, Justice Saksak stated in Court this afternoon when referring to the power to pardon.

In brief, the Judge explained that there is a difference between Functions and Power when referring to the letter that the President issued to Marcelino Pipite to act as the Acting President while in his absence.

In the letter the President transferred his Functions and not his Power, therefore Marcelino had exploited his position, at that time, to pardon himself and the other convicted MP’s.

More details of the court judgement will be published soon.

Pardon Instrument – Judgement Today

THE SUPREME COURT will deliver its judgment on the legality of the Pardon Instrument for the 14 convicted Members of Parliament this afternoon Wednesday, 21st October, 2015.

Both the prosecution council and the defense council gave their submissions to the Supreme Court yesterday morning regarding the legal basis of the pardoning and the revocation of the pardoning of the 14 convicted MP’s by the President.

The Prosecution Council claimed in Court that the Pardoning of the 14 convicted MP’s including
some Ministers on October 10th 2015 is unconstitutional.

Presidential Revocation

Prosecution Council claimed that the act by the then Acting President Marcellino Pipite was unconstitutional. One of the reasons why they claimed that the Pardon Instrument was unconstitutional was conflict of Interest as accorded in Article 66 of the Constitution. The Prosecution counsel said it is a clear that there was a conflict of interest due to the fact that the Acting President pardoned himself and the other convicted MP’s.

Article 66 of the Constitution provides that the Conduct of Leaders is in line with the Leadership Code. It states that any person defined as a leader in Article 67 has a duty to conduct himself in such a way, both in his public and private life, so as not to place himself in a position in which he has or could have a conflict of interests or in which the fair exercise of his public or official duties might be compromised.

In relation to the revocation of the Pardon by the President of the Republic of Vanuatu His Excellency Baldwin Lonsdale, the Prosecution Counsel agreed that the President has the power to revoke instruments of a party which he considers incorrect.

On the other hand, the defense council told the court that they strongly agree that Marcellino Pipite lawfully exercised his presidential powers as accorded by article 38 of the Constitution.

The defense council made this submission court with supporting evidence which is a letter dated 5th October 2015, from the President of the Republic Baldwin Lonsdale formally appointing Marcellino Pipite as the Acting President while he will be out of the country.

Meanwhile, Article 38 of the constitution stated that the President of the Republic may pardon, commute or reduce a sentence imposed on a person convicted of an offence. Parliament may provide for a committee to advise the President in the exercise of this function.

With that, the defense council claimed that the revocation of the pardon was unconstitutional. One of the reasons why they said this was that Marcellino Pipite rightfully exercised his legal presidential powers as accorded in article 38 of the constitution.

The constitutional petition was filed last week by Former Prime Minister Joe Natuman to challenge the legitimacy of the pardon.

 

WATCH: President Revokes Pardon Instrument

 

Picture: http://www.connecticutpardonteam.org/connecticut-may-be-ahead-of-the-curve-when-it-comes-to-pardoning-convicts/

 

 

14 Members Of Parliament Found Guilty By The Supreme Court Of Vanuatu For Bribery

People outside the Supreme Court.

People outside the Supreme Court.

THE SUPREME COURT has finally delivered its verdict on the Bribery Case that has gathered a lot of attention across Vanuatu and the region. 14 of the 15 defendants were found guilty by the court. TIV was among the dozens that gathered to hear the outcome of one of Vanuatu’s most important court sessions.

In her statement Judge Sey said that she accepted all the evidences provided by the witnesses, she concluded that the evidence by the witnesses were “clear, consistent”. She said “I find it credible, and I accept it”.

Judge Sey declared that she found as an establish fact that the charges under “counts 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, and 50 on the charge of corruption and bribery of officials under section (73) sub-section (1) of the Penal Code Act, that the defendants, as public officials, each of them did corruptly accept or obtain a bribe, namely VT1 million, for himself in respect of an act to be done by him in his official capacity.”

Furthmore, “I accept and find, as an established fact,” Judge Sey delivered, “that in respect of counts… (8 to 25), of the charge of corruption and bribery of official under section (73) sub-section (2) of the Penal Code Act the accused, Moana Carcasses Kalosil, as a public official, did corruptly give or bribe, namely VT 1 million” to the other defendants in the case.”

Judge Sey found and accepted, as an established fact, that a bribe was given by Moana Carcasses Kalosil to the case defendants in their official capacity as public officials. Judge Sey found that when the bribe was given it was intended to influence the other defendants in the capacity as public officials.

The court also found that Tony Nari did corruptly give John Tesei VT 500,000.

“In the result, I therefore find the charges of corruption and bribery of officials, under section (73) sub-section (1) and (2) under the Penal Code Act Cap 135, proved by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt. And the following accused persons,” namely; Moana Carcasses Kalosil, Silas Yatan, Paul Telukluk, Serge Vohor, Tony Nari, John Amos, Arnold Prasad, Steven Kalsakau, Tony Wright, Sebastien Harry, Thomas Laken, Marcelino Pipite, Jonas James and Jean Yves Chabod “are accordingly convicted as charged. That is the judgement of the court,” Judge Sey announced.

Thus a total of 15 Members of Parliament have been found guilty, including Willie Jimmy who pleaded guilty earlier during the case trials.

The defendants are scheduled to receive their sentencing on Thursday the 22nd of October. Around 500 people gathered outside waiting for the verdict, the blocked streets were packed with people, some sat on the road while others looked on over the fence into the court.

Dozens of people gathered outside waiting to hear the courts decision.

Dozens of people gathered outside waiting to hear the courts decision.

Prime Minister Issues Safety Precautions Following Bribery Case Verdict

THE PRIME MINISTER has send a letter to Chief Tursupe, the President of the Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs, for assistance “to support the government’s determination to endure the determination to ensure the prevalence of peace in the greater Port Vila area”, this follows the scheduled judgement of the bribery case which is to handed down tomorrow at the Supreme Court.

In the letter dated 8th October, the Prime Minister said that he was informed that “rumours are circulating of possible civil unrest in Port Vila.” He further cautioned that “whether we can count on these rumors or not we need to be on alert and take precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the population of Port Vila and their properties.”

The Prime Minster said that instructions have been issued to the Vanuatu Police Force to be on alert. To the President of Malvatumauri he stated that the “assistance of your council and Chief representatives living in Port Vila to appeal for calm during this period and to allow justice to take its course would be greatly appreciated.”

Friday the 9th of October at 2:00pm, Judge Sey is expected to hand down the courts verdict on the bribery case.

Bohn Confirms Obtaining Loan For Constituency Development Use

MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT for Epi Robert Bohn confirmed in court yesterday morning to have obtained a loan from the Greens Confederation Community Development Fund Ltd.

Defense Witness MP Bohn claimed that the MP’s Salaries, Sitting fees and allocation funds were not enough for them to develop their constituencies. Therefore, he told the court that he had to take the loan form Moana after several discussions on the loan scheme prior to the signing of the loan agreement.

MP Bohn also confirmed to the court that the Greens Confederation Community Development Fund is a trustee to the Greens Confederation Trust.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bohn said denied cross examination’s claim of a no confidence motion against the Prime Minister behind the loan agreement.

Also the loan agreement document contains repayment conditions which is to be deducted from their severance pay at the end of their terms.

MP Robert Bohn was called into the witness box by the defense council to testify, while all the other accused MPs remained silent.

In fact, during cross examination from the prosecution, Mr. Bohn confirmed that he signed a motion of no confidence twice. One was before and one was after he signed the loan agreement.

He was certainly approached by Moana with the loan document in his office unlike all the other accused MPs who signed the loan agreement in the Greens confederation Office.

The VT 1 million loan obtained was used to build a “brand new aid post in Lamen Bay,” Epi, Mr Bohn told the court.

Yesterday Justice Mary Sey rejected the defense submission of ‘no case’ and ruled that there is a case.

Justice Mary Sey schedules 9th October 2015 to deliver her Judgment on the bribery case involving the 16 MPs.

Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV), though not a major media outlet, has taken on the effort to update the public on the outcomes of the court sessions this week through the TIV online news blogsite called tivnews (www.tivnews.wordpress).

Vanuatu Financial Service Commission Says Greens Confederation Community Development Fund Limited An International Company

THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER for the Vanuatu Financial Service Commission (VFSC) Sarah Obed confirmed in court this morning that the Greens Confederation Community Development Fund Ltd is an active registered international company.

Mrs. Sarah also confirmed that the Greens Alliance Community is a charitable organization active and registered in the VFSC.

However, Mrs. Sarah told the court this morning that there is no entity for Green Company Ltd, Green Confederation Development fund or neither a Green confederation trust in the VFSC.

Since last week, prosecution witnesses testified in court to have signed a loan agreement given by the Greens Confederation Community Development Fund which was what was on the bank statements.

However, this morning witnesses from the Customs In land Revenue and Taxes and Reserve bank confirmed there is no registry for Greens Confederation Community Development Fund Ltd in Customs and Reserve Bank records.

In fact, Governor for the Reserve Bank confirmed to the court that there are only five commercial Banks registered in the Reserve Bank: ANZ, Westpac Bank, National Bank of Vanuatu, Bred Bank and the European Bank.

Lending institutions registered under the Reserve Bank are Vanuatu National Provident Fund, Credit Corporation, Agriculture Development Bank and Credit Unions.

The said commercial banks and lending institutions have met the required criteria upon application, thus categorized into their current status under the Financial Institutions Act, confirmed by Reserve Bank Governor.

This afternoon the prosecution will call in its last witness at 2pm.