22 Feb 2003

Former Vanuatu prime minister continues legal fight for reinstatement

10:15 am on 22 February 2003

Vanuatu's pardoned former prime minster, Barak Sope, says he is confident of regaining his seat in parliament when a by-election is called.

Mr Sope, who lost a Supreme Court case to reclaim his seat, says he plans to appeal against the ruling.

He says he interprets his presidential pardon to mean that he is free to return to parliament.

Mr Sope says when president John Bani visited him while he was sick in hospital, he had assured him that he had been pardoned and asked him to resume his life.

Mr Sope says in Vanuatu custom, when you are forgiven it means you are once more the complete person you used to be.

He says it doesn't matter if he loses the appeal but he wants to make a point by using the legal means available as an example for others to follow in the future.

Mr Sope was jailed for 3 years for fraud but was pardoned after serving 3 months in prison.

Following his pardon, Mr Sope lost a challenge against the attorney general's ruling that his conviction meant he could not reclaim his seat in parliament