12 May 2014

Vanuatu chief wants gang rape case dropped

2:14 pm on 12 May 2014

Reports from Vanuatu say a local chief is arguing for charges against alleged gang rapists to be dropped.

Six men have been charged with the rape of a woman from the island of Tanna.

The Vanuatu Independent reports the 28 year old alleged victim walked into the prosecutors' office last week with two letters, one from the woman herself and one from her local chief asking for the charges to be dropped.

The prosecutors told the paper the chief argued the six charged had never been to prison before and the environment would make them worse criminals.

The chief said the men had since performed a custom ceremony, been fined and also lightly beaten by men appointed by the chief.

But the paper reports the prosecutors have insisted the case is now a state case and not to be dealt with in the customary way.

They say other similar cases had been destroyed after victims had been coerced into calling for charges to be withdrawn.