Two former Vanuatu MPs to be released on parole Friday

FORMER Vanuatu Prime Minister, Serge Vohor and former Efate MP Steven Kalsakau will be released on parole on Friday morning.

They were jailed in 2015 with 12 other former MPs over charges of bribery and corruption of officials are the first of the group to gain freedom fromthe Parole Board.

Vanuatu Correctional Services Director, Johnny Marango, confirmed that the duo’s application for parole was accepted by the parole board because they will be reaching half of their sentence this coming Friday.

Their release is likely the beginning of the release of most of the former MPs except another former Prime Minister, Moana Carcasses and Tony Nari after the Appeal Court quashed convictions for conspiracy charges recently.

Mr Marango said that the two inmates were not released on compassionate grounds but were processed according to the normal parole procedure like all inmates.

“Vohor and Kalsakau will be inducted this coming Friday and issued with their parole licenses which comes with conditions,” said the Correctional Services Director.

The two former MPs received the lowest sentence of three years for one count each of Corruption & Bribery of Officials contrary to S.73 (2) of the Penal Code Act in October 2015.

He said the procedure involved completing half of their sentence, good behaviour and involvement in the rehabilitation programs.

Meanwhile, he also informed that the Parole Board only sits once a month but there will be an extra ordinary sitting by the end of this month to deal with the application of another 10 former MPs.

“The other former MPs excluding Moana Carcasses are also eligible for parole after the Court of Appeal quashed their conviction of conspiracy to defeat the course of justice.”

The other MPs include Silas Yatan, Paul Telukluk, John Amos, Arnold Prasad, Tony Wright, Sebastien Harry, Thomas Laken, Marcellino Pipite, Jonas James, and Jean Yves Chabod.

The release of the politicians is received with a mixed reaction from the general public but Marango emphasises that people should understand that they have met the requirements of the Parole Board.

“There was no special treatment,’’ he said.

“It is also against the law not to process a parole application for an inmate who is eligible.”

He said the granting of parole comes with conditions that the parolee will have to abide to once outside the Correctional Centre.

“If they breach their conditions, we will inform the parole board leading to a recall order.”

Former Prime Minister, Moana Carcasses is serving four years imprisonment for each count concurrently will remain in custody for at least another 7 more months before being eligible for parole in October this year. Former Minister Tony Nari received a  42 month sentence and is due for parole in July.

The Correctional Services Director added that while they are aware that it is up to the Public Prosecutor whether to pursue a retrial for the conspiracy case or not, the inmates concern will be processed for parole because currently they are free of the conspiracy charges.

Vohor is a prominent and veteran politician who managed to hold on to the leadership of the Union of Moderate Party even behind bars.

He was re-elected the President of UMP and there are reports are that supporters have welcomed his imminent release.