17 May 2005

Vanuatu TI concerned about lack of public prosecution

3:27 pm on 17 May 2005

Transparency International Vanuatu says the dismissal of a case against top officials and leaders in Vanuatu's supreme court highlights the urgent need in the country for a public prosecutor.

The fraud case against the chairman of the Vanuatu Maritime Authority, the VMA commissioner, the former Fisheries Minister and others, was dismissed for want of public prosecution last week.

TI's Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson says since the departure of the last Public Prosecutor earlier this year, the country only has a junior public prosecutor

She says he was unable to present even a good request for delaying this case due to his inexperience.

"And the last time the defence asked for a delay - and probably indications are that they knew it was the end of the contract of the public prosecutor. So the case was scheduled for three days after the end of the contract of the public prosecutor. So it's another time where it's a case involving top leaders and there's not even a chance to have it tried in a fair court, so again it's making a mockery of the whole system."

TI's Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson