Phocea crew charged with multiple counts of illegal entry, fined Vt 100,000 each

Crew members of the yacht Phocea read their charge sheets at the Magistrate’s Court, Port Vila, Vanuatu, Thursday 16 August 2012

Late yesterday afternoon at the Magistrate’s Court in Port Vila, some thirteen crew members of the Phocea, charged with illegal entry to Vanuatu, were fined. They had illegally entered the country over several days using the sailing boat’s dinghy and other vessels. They came and went to Pango and other places without Police, Customs and Quarantine clearance.

The Public Prosecutor was seeking the maximum fine of Vt 2,000,000 per person for all thirteen pleading guilty. However, they were hoping to be fined only Vt 15,000 per person, claiming good character and feeling the ship’s skipper, in possession of their passports, was the person obliged to attend to the entry formalities. In the end they were fined Vt 100,000 each. This only relates to illegal entry charges. There are more charges being laid against some of the Phocea arrivals including the captain of the vessel and a woman crew member.

Radio Vanuatu started with trade fair news on the last day of that event, with Tanna Coffee hoping to break through to the US market. Daily Post leads with the appointment of an ombudsman staff member, Alain Molgos, as acting ombudsman. 

A large number, but not specified, of VNPF members have been meeting since the Chiefs’ Nakamal assembly on Tuesday to petition the government to pay out all members’ full entitlements from the Vanuatu National Provident Fund and close the fund. Their demands were first outlined on Tuesday in that meeting.

It is understood their demands are being clarified and will be forwarded to government at the earliest opportunity. Everyone is being called upon to remain quiet. The Vanua’aku Pati is not entering this battle, which does seem directed towards just the one minister, Finance Minister Moana Carcasses. The VP is going out of its way to advise members to remain quiet. The Fund is closed until Monday.

 

Prime Minister Sato Kilman is back in the country and has spoken of the happy time he passed with Team Vanuatu in the United Kingdom, and with members of the British Friends of Vanuatu. He has not made any reference to the VNPF or Phocea issues.