10 Aug 2012

Vanuatu court appearance for Phocea captain

2:10 pm on 10 August 2012

The captain of the yacht Phocea, which has been seized in Vanuatu, is due in court today.

Richard Malaise and a woman, who was onboard when the boat arrived from Tonga, are charged with breaching the Immigration and Customs Act and if found guilty, they could be jailed for up to two years.

Police searched the vessel for suspected weapons and fake Vanuatu passports more than two weeks ago.

Two government ministers and another MP were reported to have been onboard the vessel before customs officials arrived.

A senior investigator, who said drugs were seized, was subsequently suspended by the government in a move that the police officer is challenging.

The reported owner, Anh Quan Saken, left Port Vila before he could be questioned.

He is Vanuatu's nominee as honorary consul to Vietnam.