16 Nov 2002

Former Vanuatu PM Sope pardoned

9:12 am on 16 November 2002

A former Vanuatu prime minister, Barak Sope, has been given a full presidential pardon and been freed from jail.

The pardon was granted by President, Father John Bani, on medical grounds.

Father Bani personally handed the pardon to Sope while he was in his bed in Vila Central Hospital wher he was transferred after falling ill on Monday.

Speaking to reporters after his release, Sope thanked the government and the opposition for their support for his release.

He was sentenced to three years in jail earlier this year after being found guilty on two counts of forgery.

Last week, Sope lost his parliamentary seat but Vanuatu radio says he is now expected to stand in the upcoming by-election.