21 Nov 2002

Transparency International in Vanuatu says overseas advisors vital

5:20 pm on 21 November 2002

Transparency International in Vanuatu says assistance from New Zealand and Australia for the under-resourced judiciary and police is widely appreciated in Vanuatu.

The recently pardoned former Prime Minister Barak Sope blames meddling by New Zealand and Australian officials for his imprisonment four months ago on forgery charges.

He was pardoned last week by the President on medical grounds.

Mr Sope claims he did nothing wrong and should not have been convicted but the head of Transparency International, Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson, says his failure to acknowledge his wrong doing is frightening.

And she says everyone in Vanuatu knows that the public prosecutor office is under resourced and lacks the skills to handle financial cases.

"and that is a common knowledge here so we are very pleased, whether it is Australia or New Zealand, that someone who wants to prosecute a case with a fair chance of dealing with the case correctly, you need to bring some people from overseas"

Mrs Ferrieux Patterson says his refusal to accept he was wrong is frightening.