23 Jan 2013

Australian police back in Vanuatu on unspecified business

1:17 pm on 23 January 2013

Two officers of the Australian Federal Police have arrived in Vanuatu for talks with government leaders.

The public relation officer in the prime minister's office, Jeff Batunvanu, confirmed their arrival but declined to elaborate on the purpose of the visit.

Last April, Australia withdrew its 20 Vanuatu-based officers after they were threatened with arrest within 24 hours in retaliation for Canberra allegedly breaching protocol for the Vanuatu prime minister, Sato Kilman.

At that time, Mr Kilman and his delegation were asked by Australian police to leave the transit area of Sydney Airport.

This was then used to arrest his secretary, Clarence Marae, who is still held on remand for alleged tax fraud.

Canberra expressed regret that it was necessary to make the arrest during Mr Kilman's transit.

It added that all possible measures were taken to ensure it was carried out in a way that was respectful of Mr Kilman's position..