Natuman conspiracy case decision delayed; Luganville mayor loses seat; Chinese investor imprisoned for smuggling

Former Vanuatu PM Joe Natuman

Former PM Joe Natuman. Photo: Wikimedia/Graham Crumb

The Magistrate’s Court is concerned with an issue in law which has meant a delay in a decision in the matter brought by former MP Moana Carcasses against the present Deputy Prime Minister Joe Natuman. This particular matter has been labelled a conspiracy case since it concerns both Natuman and former Police Commissioner Maralau and claims Natuman, PM at the time, and Maralau conspired to terminate an inquiry into an alleged police mutiny. Magistrate Felix Steven’s decision, after receiving the Supreme Court’s advice in the matter, will now be given on 7 April.

The Supreme Court has thrown out the electoral petition against Albert Williams (GJP) following this year’s national elections. The MP is well-known for his environmental concerns, having directed the Environment Unit and Department for a number of year. Other electoral disputes are expected to be resolved before Parliament sits next week.

The new Mayor of Luganville, Edwin Aprimen, and another councillor (Peter Patty) have lost their seats in Council owing to their non-residence in the wards in which they contested. A third councillor (James Gaua) has lost his seat through a mis-application of the electoral law. (Daily Post, yesterday)

Daily Post today reports Chinese investor Yao receiving a year-long prison term and fines of 2.5 million vatu for illegally importing 2,938 packets of cigarettes concealed in metal bars and failing to declare them to Customs officers. They were intended for retail in Yao’s family stores in Luganville. Photographs supplied show galvanised pipes being cut to reveal the cigarettes.

The first office equipment of the national terrestrial digital TV project of VBTC and CEKE company of China arrived at the weekend, Radio Vanuatu has reported. VBTC and CEKE (a private Chinese company) signed a cooperation agreement, listeners were told, for the service to be available before the end of 2017. Approval documents to form the company to run the service were signed by former PM Sato Kilman before the end of last year. VBTC GM Fred Vurobaravu said work on the undertaking had been going on for three years and fitted into the announced forward planning of PM Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas. There has been no public awareness or discussion of the costs (financial and social) of the plan to offer television throughout the country.

Daily Post yesterday carried an excellent report on the indigenous botanical garden at the Tagabe water source which has been vandalised. Local botanist Philemon Ala took the Prime Minister and Ministers for Lands and Climate Change on a visit to the site to preserve the main local, indigenous species of vegetation and better secure the town’s water source. UNELCO is going to provide whatever assistance is required to restore the garden and forest.