Vanuatu Court reserved judgment against 14 former members of parliament

Vanuatu Court reserved judgment against 14 former members of parliament

  04 Nov 2016

The jailed former Vanuatu Members of Parliament, their families and political supporters will have to wait for a later date, for the Supreme Court to hand down its judgment on Constitutional Application case.

Supreme Court Judge, James Geoghegan told a packed court room that the judgment is reserved but will be given priority and released at some stage in the future. [restrict]

Filed by the 14 former members of parliament, the application is closely followed as it holds the key to a bid for hope that they could be released from jail.

The application calls for the decision of the 2015 bribery case and its subsequent cases to be quashed on the claim that the applicants’ parliamentary privileges of immunity was breached.

They testified in court that parliament was already called last year when they were informed by their lawyers to attend the preliminary inquiry at the Magistrate Court.

The parliamentary privileges of MPs is set out in Article 27 of the Constitution and concerns for proceedings being started, regarding a prosecution when Parliament is “in session”.

The enforcement of Fundamental Rights was also laboured for by the counsel.

It seemed to those in court that counsel Ishmael Kalsakau was making suggestions regarding the Parole Board.

And there was much discussions as to when it would be considered proper by the appellants for inquiries to begin which may lead to a prosecution actually starting.

Counsel Kalsakau also drew the court’s attention to Article 53 dealing with how the Supreme Court should deal with applications when the Constitution is infringed.

Further submissions by those convicted and imprisoned for bribery were advanced by the jailed MPs in court Wednesday through their lawyer.

Geoghegan agreed that issues raised by the counsels for the appellants in the Constitutional matter are important.

The 14 former MPs were jailed in October last year after they were found guilty of bribery and corruption of government officials.

Numerous related cases followed even before the decision of the bribery case was made, followed by appeals. SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS [/restrict]