1 May 2008

New Caledonian appeal against Vili acquittal

11:14 am on 1 May 2008

The public prosecutor in New Caledonia has lodged an appeal against last week's acquittal of a Wallisian man, Laurent Vili, who had been tried for the alleged murder of a Kanak man during an ethnic conflict in 2002.

Mr Vili, who plays rugby for the French side Nimes, was accused of shooting a 26-year old Kanak, Jean-Marie Goyeta, during a gunfight in St Louis between Kanaks and Wallisians.

Mr Goyeta was wounded and he died a month later in hospital.

Mr Vili had been arrested in France nearly six years ago and spent a year in jail as part of the investigation.

The prosecution wanted Mr Vili to be given a five-year suspended jail sentence but he was acquitted which led to a Kanak protest with tyres being burnt.

Mr Vili's lawyer has criticised the prosecution's move to appeal, saying he believes the only reason to so is to calm the situation.