21 Oct 2015

Legality of Vanuatu pardons tested

12:00 pm on 21 October 2015
Tony Nari, Serge Vohor (middle) and lawyer Robin Kababa outside court on Tuesday.

Tony Nari, Serge Vohor (middle) and lawyer Robin Kababa outside court on Tuesday. Photo: RNZI / Hilaire Bule

The constitutionality of the pardon of convicted MPs in Vanuatu and its subsequent cancellation will be decided by Vanuatu's Supreme Court this afternoon.

The court has heard an opposition challenge to the decision by Marcellino Pipite who pardoned himself and 13 other MPs while he was the acting head of state.

The President Baldwin Lonsdale's revocation of the pardons is also subject to a legal challenge by the government, in a separate case.

The opposition's lawyer, Edward Nalial, says Mr Pipite's decision was unconstitutional and amounted to a conflict of interest.

But the lawyers representing the convicted minister of health, Serge Vohor, and two other convicted MPs, Tony Wright and Jonas James, said Father Lonsdale's revocation of the pardons was unconstitutional.

The lawyer representing the president, Fredy Gilu from the State Law Office, says the president has the power to revoke a pardon, and it was the MPs who acted unconstitutionally because a pardon can only be used when all other legal avenues have been exhausted.

Justice Oliver Saksak will deliver his verdict at three o'clock.

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