Monday, July 4, 2011

[pima.nius] Vanuatu publisher may appeal minister's sentence

11:18 AM |

Vanuatu publisher may appeal minister's sentence

Updated July 4, 2011 17:10:57

A Vanuatu newspaper publisher is looking at appealing what he sees as an unusually light sentence for a cabinet minister found guilty of involvement in an assault.

Vanuatu Daily Post publisher Marc Neil-Jones was recently assaulted by several supporters of the Minister of Public Utilities and Infrastructure, Harry Iauko, and the Minister and his followers have been found guilty in the magistrates court.

Mr Iauko apologised in court, and was fined the equivalent of 150 US dollars.

Marc Neil-Jones isn't happy about that sentence.

Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Marc Neil-Jones, Vanuatu Daily Post publisher

NEIL-JONES: I have major concerns over the sentence given out to the minister, Harry Iauko. I believe, it's my opinion it's a miscarriage of justice and I will be seeking legal advice on what we can do, because I believe this sentence, finding in the equivalent of $150 when he led a group of eight thugs into this office, assaulted me, made threats to staff and admitted guilt on aiding and abetting an assault and damage to property. To fine him $150 just sets a very dangerous precedent and I want to look at what we can do over this, because he was fined a lot less than any of the others and because he plead guilty on two accounts and then not guilty on all the other accounts. All the other counts were just dropped. So I need to basically seek legal advice to find out where we stand on this.

HILL: On the otherhand, a Vanuatu cabinet minister has been charged with an offence, went to court and has been found guilty, that in itself is progress of a kind, isn't it?

NEIL-JONES: Yes, I agree. I mean I'm happy at the fact that this did go all the way through courts and it has set a precedent that shows that no one is above the law. Having said that, I still feel concerns that the minister was treated extremely leniently and had this gone through to the Supreme Court as I believe it should have, it might have been different. But the the problem is he still is the state minister. I mean I accept the decision as it stands, but so far as to say I am concerned over it and we will be seeking legal advice.

HILL: Have other people expressed concern about the alleged leniency of the sentence?

NEIL-JONES: Yes, a great deal of concern has been shown towards us and going public on it is a different matter. VANGO have voiced their concerns publicly.

HILL: That's the Vanuatu Association of Non-government organisations.?

NEIL-JONES: Non-government organisations, that's correct and a number of people have voiced surprise over it and have encouraged me to seek legal advice or look at appealing his sentence, because it's just strange that everyone else was fined a lot more, between $30,000 and $80,000.

HILL: Well Mr. Iauko in fact said that he was not actually personally involved in the actual assault on you and he actually expressed a degree of remorse I think in court?

NEIL-JONES: Well, you know, had he shown remorse when he led them into my office, stood over me, was shouting and did absolutely nothing when I was attacked. I believe is a miscarriage of justice, I really do.

HILL: This case was heard in the magistrate's court. At the time, you expected this would go all the way to the supreme court, didn't you? Why was it heard in a magistrate's court instead?

NEIL-JONES: Well yeah, we were told all along by the state prosecutors that this was a simple case and it'll be referred to the supreme court, because it involved a government minister and because there was some serious charges, they told us it was just a matter of course. It would be referred and it went in front of a junior magistrate and he was all set to refer it to the supreme court, when suddenly there was a complete about turn by the state prosecution and it was most unusual from the point of view that they did a strong push for the magistrate to hear the case and keep it magistrate's level. By remaining at magistrate's level, it was just the state prosecutors. Normally the more inexperienced prosecutors handling it and we knew straight away that if it remained at magistrate's level, they can't give sentences I understand over one year.


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pacific islands media association
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aotearoa, new zealand
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pacific islands media association
pima.nius@gmail.com
aotearoa, new zealand
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The pima.nius googlegroup is a facility for discussion and distributing information. Content sent by this googlegroup are forwarded from various networks and media publications.
 
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