Monday, March 7, 2011

[pima.nius] Another assault on Daily Post publisher MNJ

11:09 AM |

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Marc Neil-Jones <>
Date: 5 March 2011 15:30
Subject: [Freedom-Forum] Another assault on Daily Post publisher MNJ

I have to unfortunately report another instance of assault on myself. This time by a Minister of State Harry Iauko and his thugs. I am OK apart from strangulation marks around my neck, headache where two large tufts of hair were yanked out by the roots and bruises to neck, arms and back. Rather than waffle on myself I attach my editors front page story in todays paper and a copy of my police statement on the incident. Marie Noelle Patterson of Transparency International is angry over this as it was primarily her criticism of Iauko in the Transparency International weekly column that caused the assault. I had already broken a sensitive story last month on Iauku involved in a corrupt land deal as Minister of lands where he took over a derelict hotel property and sold it to an MP aligned to him for a pittance of just over vt5 million, who then onsold the property for over vt50 million. Had it gone to tender as it should have the government would have received much needed revenue and not a pittance. Iauko is corrupt and dangerous. I intend writing an editorial demanding his sacking but because of the tight numbers game and potential fall of the government I know damn well nothing will happen. This time however if the police and Public Prosector don't do their job (as in the case of my last two assaults), I will work with Marie Noelle on a private prosecution.

I am getting too old for this shit anymore. I am tired. Here is the news article and police statement. Any support regional media can give to apply pressure on the government to take action would be appreciated. I can't think of many countries where a minister of state would survive long if he marched into a national newspaper with a gang of thugs employed within the ministry and assaulted the publisher of a national daiily paper because he didn't like the valid criticism he was getting from all quarters including the newspaper, members of the public through letters to the editor and Transparency International. This is a clear case of serious breaches of the Leadership Code and criminal charges of assault, aiding and abetting assault, threatening behaviour and breaches of the peace by a state minister and his cronies.

Marc Neil- Jones

Front Page story Saturday 5 March

Iauko brings disgrace to Kilman government

Publisher vows to press charges against minister

By Royson Willie

A minister of the State, Harry Iauko, led a group of men yesterday around 3pm into the Daily Post newspaper's office and assaulted the Publisher of Daily Post, Marc Neil-Jones, as well as threaten staff of the newspaper over articles carried in the newspaper about the minister's handling of land issues, the Airports Vanuatu Limited board suspension, Transparency International's column and letters to editor.

All these were carried throughout the week in different issues of the newspaper.

The group led by the minister entered the Daily Post office quietly and all, including the Minister for Public Utilities went into the Publisher's office and assaulted him at his desk.

The minister was clearly heard by Daily Post staff shouting at the top of his voice as Mr Neil-Jones was assaulted.

An angry Neil-Jones said he will be pressing charges against the minister on several counts including aiding and abetting an assault.

He said he will be pressing charges against the minister because he was the one who could have stopped the men from going into the Daily Post office to assault, but instead Iauko stood right next to him and watched the assault taking place.

A doctor's examination on Neil-Jones found marks on his neck indicating someone had strangled him. Neil-Jones said he was grabbed in the neck and kicked.

"I was particularly angry to seek Jay Ngwele with the group because he owes me over Vt300,000 for construction work that he was paid to do but never did," he said.

Minister Iauko even threatened the Editor of the Daily Post, Royson Willie, saying "yu wantem mi brekem face blo yu?" (do you want me to break your face?) with one of the men by the name of Nanua from North Tanna threatening the Editor.

The Editor has condemned the attack on the free and independent media in Vanuatu saying such action is a disgrace and unacceptable, especially when a state minister was involved in such completely not statesmanship action.

The men with the minister were mostly from North Tanna, Middle Bush on Tanna and Whitesands on Tanna living in Port Vila.

The thugs used a government vehicle with registration number G762 to carry out the act.

This government vehicle was driven by Iauko's political crony, Jay Ngwele.

Police arrived at the scene as the group was leaving the office.

The details of the assault have already been given to the police who are handling the case. 

Police statement from Marc Neil - Jones

Port Vila 5 March 2011

Statement by Marc Neil- Jones


Around 3pm on Friday March 4th I was in my office writing emails when suddenly my office door burst open and Minister Harry Iauko barged into the office followed by around 8 other people. They had not asked to see me or had gone through normal protocol asking my secretary if they could see me. They had marched through the office threatening my staff and barged into my office.

I had broken the news about Iauko and a corrupt land deal involving Marina Motel a few weeks ago and had wriiten a news item earlier in the week about Iauko suspending the Airports Vanuatu board illegally and in that days paper there was a very critical piece on him by Transparency International which we did not write, as well as two letters from members of the public angry over his actions in targeting Airports Vanuatu and expressing personal opinions critical of the ministers actions.. He was very angry at the criticism.

I was sitting behind my desk and Iauko came into the office with his men, came around the desk and stood over me and was very angry. His eyes were glazed and he was perspiring and was ready to fight. He looked as though he wanted to assault me and I tried to talk to him without success. He accused me of writing bad things about him to cause him problems and said this would be the last time.

Iauko as the minister was in complete control of the situation and in control of  the people with him, most of them were working for him at the ministry according to Daily Post staff. All of them are on CCTV footage up until the time they all entered my office.

They pushed my desk violently to one side and kicked my chair over to make room to reach me.

As I turned to my right to get some water I was hit by someone.  I didn't see who it was. I was then punched and kicked to the ground. My head was hit against the brick wall and someone grabbed my throat and attempted to strangle me by cutting off air. They only stopped when I was gurgling for breath and nearly unconscious and someone said stop. I have bruises on my arms, back, neck and head as two large tufts of my hair were also pulled out of my scalp and left on the floor and desk which was later photographed by police. All of this is on the official medical report done at Vila Bay  Hospital.

They threatened to return if I wrote any more negative things. I was left on the floor gasping for breath and with pain in my head and neck.

They all went back into the office intimidating and threatening my staff. One pushed my Tanna editor Royson Willie and didn't go further because all hell would have broken loose in the future had he been assaulted as he is from a different part of Tanna to Iauko. At all times Iauko as minister was in complete control, knew exactly what was happening, instigated it and controlled it.  As minister at any time he could have stopped it but didn't. He in effect endorsed and approved the assault and was directly involved in the assault and threats and disturbance of the peace.

I wish to press charges against all those who came into my office shown on CCTV for assault. I also wish all those who came into the office to also be charged with aiding and abetting assault, in particular the Minister Harry Iauko as he was in complete control of the situation as the minister. I am not entirely sure who assaulted me as there were a few involved but they should all be charged with assault and aiding and abetting assault.

I also wish charges to be made against all of them for threatening behaviour, breach of the peace and intimidation.

I am also asking the Ombudsman to formerly lay charges against Iauko and all those civil servants working with him who entered my office and were involved in the assault, threatening behaviour, intimidation and disturbing the peace, for a clear Breach of the Leadership Code.



 Marc Neil - Jones

vanuatu Daily Post


pacific islands media association
aotearoa, new zealand
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