Conspiracy case against jailed MPs set aside

ELEVEN of the 14 jailed Vanuatu MPs have had their additional sentences set aside in a decision made in a constitutional appeal before the Port Vila Supreme Court on Friday afternoon.

The eleven had received hefty extra sentences for being involved in the infamous pardoning episode and these sentences were to be served consecutively to the original sentences.

This meant former Speaker Marcellino Pipite was facing seven years’ jail and former Public Works Minister Tony Nari was looking at a maximum of six-and-half-years.

Now all 14 men will be eligible for parole this year, with ex-Prime Minister Moana Carcasses the last of the group – not being able to apply until October.

Many of the others can apply in a matter of weeks as they will have served half their original sentences, which makes them eligible under Vanuatu law.

There are no guarantees, however, that the Parole Board will grant their releases, although some of the former politicians are in extremely poor health.

Under the Act, the Community Parole Board consists of a Judge of the Supreme Court or a Magistrate of the Magistrates Court who is the chairperson and two other persons who must be of high standing in the community, one of whom must be a woman.

The chairperson is to be appointed by the Chief Justice. The other Board members are to be appointed by the Minister after consultation with the Director. A quorum of the Board shall comprise of the chairperson and two other members appointed.

Meetings of the Board are to be held at such time and place as the Chairperson decides. The Board is to consider every detainee for parole within one month of that detainee becoming eligible for parole.