5 Aug 2002

Query over criminal conspiracy sparked arrests in Vanuatu says Deputy Police Commissioner

4:22 pm on 5 August 2002

Vanuatu's deputy police commissioner, Holly Simon, says he wants the court to determine whether there was a criminal conspiracy in the appointment of the police commissioner, Mael Apisai.

Mr Simon laid a complaint which prompted the police and the mobile force to arrest 15 people involved in the selection of Mr Apisai, including the attorney general and the prime minister's spokesman.

They were all released on bail last night and are scheduled to appear in court in two weeks.

The apparent police revolt came only days after Mr Simon asked the courts to clarify the process which led to the appointment of Mr Apisai who was retrenched from the mobile force four years ago.

Mr Apisai was chosen by the police service commission although he was not interviewed for the job and a selection panel had shortlisted four candidates, including Mr Simon.

The choice appeared to comply with the laws of Vanuatu which make no mention of a selection panel.

Mr Simon also says the decision to move against Mr Apisai came after police found that senior officers were about to be suspended.

"they have a relationship that has influenced the direction for the chairman and the police service commission to have Mr Mael Apisai as the new commissioner that's where we want to check what the involvement, the relationship between the candidate and the police service commission to make sure that he's acting under the law and not on personnel grounds"