17 Feb 2003

Former Vanuatu Prime Minister will appeal ruling on exclusionn from Parliament

4:37 pm on 17 February 2003

Former Vanuatu Prime Minister Barak Sope is planning to appeal a Supreme Court ruling that he is not entitled to return to his parliamentary seat.

Mr Sope was pardoned of fraud conviction by the President late last year, and says because of this parliament's speaker is wrong to exclude him from parliament.

The speaker barred him on the basis of a legal opinion which said he needed to have lodged an appeal to the conviction within 30 days.

Mr Sope had claimed that the pardon quashed his conviction.

But last week, the chief justice, Vincent Lunabeck, ruled that the pardon did not have any legal effect on the convictions and therefore the seat had been vacated.

Mr Sope says he will appeal the ruling because of the case's constitutional significance.