17 Oct 2015

Vanuatu MPs await fate in jail

2:21 pm on 17 October 2015

Eleven government MPs in Vanuatu will spend this weekend in jail after they were yesterday arrested on conspiracy charges only hours after their pardons were revoked by the President Baldwin Lonsdale.

The MPs are being held at the Correctional Facility in Port Vila.

The MPs are being held at the Correctional Facility in Port Vila. Photo: RNZI / Hilaire Bule

The MPs were convicted a week ago of giving and receiving corrupt payments, but one of the offenders, parliament's speaker Marcellino Pipite, pardoned them while he was acting president.

After the pardons were overturned, the Supreme Court ordered police to re-arrest 11 MPs, including Mr Pipite, and three lawyers who had been advising them on suspicion of conspiracy to defeat the course of justice.

Among them are four ministers - who were last night removed from their posts by Prime Minister Sato Kilman.

Vanuatu President, Baldwin Lonsdale.

Vanuatu President, Baldwin Lonsdale. Photo: AFP

They are being held at a correctional facility in Port Vila, and will appear in court on Monday.

Meanwhile, a motion of no confidence in the government filed by the opposition was thrown out by Mr Pipite only hours before his arrest after one MP withdrew his signature.

The opposition is now understood to be preparing a new motion, which is likely to be heard by deputy speaker Samson Samsen early next week.

A police van arrives at Vanuatu's correctional facility carrying the arrested MPs.

A police van arrives at Vanuatu's correctional facility carrying the arrested MPs. Photo: RNZI / Hilaire Bule

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