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No bail for jailed 15 Vanuatu MPs

23 October 2015

THE jailed Vanuatu Members of Parliament are unlikely to be granted bail before their appeal is heard on or after November 9.

Defence lawyer Colin Leo told the Independent newspaper in Port Vila the standard practice is if someone is convicted, he or she starts serving the sentence immediately, even while an appeal is pending.

The newspaper reported one of the jailed MPs, Anthony Wright, was taken to the Vila Central Hospital on Thursday night and was placed under medical watch.

Leo said they have asked that Wright be placed under intensive care outside the prison but this would depend on the court ruling.

In her ruling, Justice Mary Sey acknowledged the serious medical conditions of some of the MPs, which included Moana Carcasses, Serge Vohor, Wright, Silas Yatan, Paul Telukluk, John Amos, Jonas James and Arnold Prasad.

She said she took their health condition into account in her sentencing.

Of the 13 MPs imprisoned, only one has submitted an appeal. John Malcolm, counsel for the former deputy Prime Minister, Moana Carcasses, lodged an appeal immediately after the sentencing.

A source within the court registry confirmed Malcolm had lodged the appeal. The rest of the jailed MPs have 30 days to appeal their jail sentences.

Leo said he is in the process of lodging appeals for the rest of the MPs.

According to Section 3 (1) of the Members of Parliament Vacation of Seat, a Member of Parliament ceases to perform functions as an MP if he or she is convicted of an offence and is sentenced by a court to imprisonment for a term of not less than 2 years.

The seat will be declared vacant at the expiration of 30 days from the conviction.

The MPs' political careers are now hanging in the balance.

If the Appeal Court turns down their applications on November 9, 2015, all their seats will be vacant on November 20.

Meanwhile, the current Kilman led-coalition government has been ‘paralysed’ by the jailing of 13 of his cabinet ministers.

Since the MPs’ conviction a week ago, Prime Minister Kilman suspended four of his cabinet ministers, and took over the portfolios of Public Utilities, Education, Lands and Youth and Sports.

Following the MPs conviction, Prime Minister Kilman appointed Malekula MP, Don Ken Minister of Public Utilities to replace Tony Nari.

The Independent understands the MP for Tongoa Shepherds, and one of the Moana Carcasses’ Green Confederation’s strongman, Toara Daniel is expected to be appointed the new minister for youth & sports, replacing Tony Wright.

Daniel is currently on an official trip in China.

With the imprisonment of the President of the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP) Serge Vohor, there is now a vacancy for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade.

There has been no indication from the government on the replacement for Vohor.

However Willie Jimmy, President of Vanuatu Democratic Party (VDP) who received a 20 months suspended sentence, will retain the portfolio of Finance and Economic Management.

Political sources have confirmed to the Independent that heavy negotiations are underway between Kilman’s coalition and the National United Party (NUP) of former Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini. 

The Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) has spoken out against Kilman’s government and suggested the current coalition government liaise with the Opposition to form a government to prevent a snap election.

PM Kilman is not ready to resign and is exploring other avenues to stay in power.



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