7 Jun 2016

Not guilty plea by Vanuatu's Natuman and Maralau

8:03 pm on 7 June 2016
Ousted Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman

Joe Natuman faces conspiracy charges Photo: RNZI / Kim Baker-Wilson

Vanuatu's deputy prime minister and former police commissioner have pleaded not guilty to charges relating to a conspiracy to block a police investigation.

Joe Natuman and Aru Maralau appeared in the Supreme Court in Port Vila this morning.

The charges stem from 2014, when Mr Natuman, who was then prime minister, allegedly asked Mr Maralau to suspend investigations into a police mutiny case.

The complaint was made by another former prime minister, Moana Carcasses, who is currently in jail after he was convicted of corruption last year, a case which stemmed from a complaint by Mr Natuman.

Mr Natuman faces one count of obstruction and one of interfering with the execution of a criminal process, while Mr Maralau faces one count of complicity.

The Daily Post reports that Mr Natuman and Mr Maralau will face a pre-trial hearing on June the 20th.

Eight vying for police commissioner role

Meanwhile, eight people, including several from overseas, are vying to become the next Vanuatu police commissioner.

The Daily Post reports the secretary of the Police Service Commission, Job Boe, as saying it is the first time the post has been advertised overseas.

He said changes to the Police Act now meant foreigners could fill the highest rank in the law enforcement agency.

The paper reports the Police Service Commission and the Minister for Internal Affairs have assured the vacant post will be filled soon.

It reports that a common opinion held by the general public is an expatriate is preferred in the hope he or she can bring an end to fractures within the force.

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