24 Sep 2002

Police to plead not guilty to mutiny charges in Vanuatu

4:46 pm on 24 September 2002

26 police officers who have been charged with mutiny in Vanuatu are to plead not guilty.

Their lawyer, John Malcolm, says the officers, who include the former acting police commissioner and five senior police, believe they have a solid defence after they were charged over the arrests of 15 senior public officials.

The police detained the officials on seditious conspiracy charges following the appointment of a new police commissioner who has since been stood down.

Mr Malcolm says he's asked the prosecutor's office to drop the charges against the police but it won't do so at this point.

"If the prosecution don't decide to withdraw these chargers, prior to the date of the trial, I guess we go through the trial. My instructions are quite specific, and everybody in the whole wide world knows it that they are pleading not quilty so I;m not breaching any confidences there."

Mr Malcolm says the police officers are in court next Tuesday and will enter their plea then but a trial is not expected before February or March next year.

He also says the officers are acting responsibly and continuing with their jobs.