Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 22 December 2015

Agendas, appointments and meetings get a bit muddled at this time of year, and whilst I don’t wish to say it, rain doesn’t help. But rain still remains the best news we’ve had for a long time. Still, apologies for the delay, and I will try to cover the biggest news of two days in one Digest. The rest will be in bits as time goes on.

You will get more about the Conspiracy Case (the purported pardons by Pipite) tomorrow from Daily Post. For now I will simply say that journalists were allowed in this morning, even though the Magistrates’ Court barely allowed seating for those involved in the earlier bribery matter. The inmates remained under the supervision of staff of Correctional Services. The Public Prosecutor was thorough and clear in his reporting to the Senior Magistrate. His prima facie evidence of 42 witness statements, 3 exhibits and miscellaneous documentation would enable the prosecution case to proceed. Despite the huge amount of evidence which concerns the so-called pardons, only four persons are now being charged. Others who were previously said to be charged were lawyers who had been consulted by the accused, but who were now assisting the Public Prosecutor. The Public Prosecutor will hand down judgement on 8 January.

In the meantime, the Public Prosecutor is still concerned with matters related to conspiracy in the Bribery Case, something which is still to be heard. And former Parliamentarians suggest conspiracy where the payment of severance to convicted MPs is concerned. Government has not explained why it wrongly paid out sums of money as severance to convicted MPs no longer entitled to any of the privileges of that post. The Public Prosecutor will need to consider whether the Government itself, or officials alone, as individuals or in conspiracy, were in breach of their fiduciary duty to the State.

More news tomorrow.