Jailed MPs’ ‘gratuity’ payments still not returned; conspiracy case preliminary inquiry held

Daily Post today headlines a story from the Finance Department: “jailed MPs did not refund gratuity payments.” The big question to be asked yet is why did the Finance Department ever make the payments? The un-identified departmental or ministerial spokesperson does not explain further. Everyone will likely wonder whether the Caretaker Finance Minister, who did plead guilty to the conspiracy which put the others in gaol, or his advisers, might have been involved, especially since each recipient/conspirator in the bribery case received vt4,452,023. It is too large a sum to be blamed on a clerical error. However, there has been no announcement of any investigation into the illegal gratuity issue by Finance. One also wonders why not? in that regard.

The other conspiracy case, the Pipite Purported Pardons, will be heard on the second of February. The Magistrate’s Court did meet yesterday afternoon, despite the earlier unofficial announced date of tomorrow, to hear the Preliminary Inquiry of the Public Prosecutor. Prosecutions submitted 42 witness statements, three items of exhibit and various documents, Post tells us. Former MPs Marcellino Pipite, Silas Yatan, Arnold Prasad, Thomas Laken, John Amos, Paul Telukluk, Sebastien Harry, Tony Wright, Tony Nari, Jean-Yves Chabod and Jonas James were all charged with conspiracy to defeat the course of justice, a crime under the Penal Code (section 79a). The conspiracy was planned to have the Acting President Pipite pardon himself and 13 others involved in the bribery case immediately before the return of the substantive President from overseas. (Daily Post)

The Supreme Court yesterday threw out Constitutional Case no. 36 of 2016, Radio Vanuatu News reported this morning, between Willie Toama and the Republic. Judge Chetwynd heard the case on Tuesday and judgement was delivered yesterday. The Electoral Office had removed Willie Toama from the election candidate listing because he was not a resident of Vanuatu at the time of registration, disqualifying him from registration. (Radio Vanuatu)

The Agence universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) has had 18 students successfully complete bachelor degrees in Economics and Social Administration. They are all likely to apply for scholarships to New Caledonia, Toulouse, or Hanoi. Only one was unsuccessful.