Former Vanuatu PM Salwai loses appeal against perjury sentence

Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai in New Zealand Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Johnny Blades

An appeal by Vanuatu’s former prime minister Charlot Salwai against his perjury sentence has been dismissed.

The Appeal Court told him instead that his suspended two-year sentence was lenient.

Salwai was found guilty last December after being accused of misinforming the country in regard to the appointment of parliamentary secretaries in 2016.

The case followed a police complaint filed by the opposition leader at the time, Ishmael Kalsakau, in relation to proceedings related to the constitutionality of the creation of parliamentary secretary positions.

In his sworn statement in court Salway had declared that the creation of position of parliamentary secretary was approved by the Council of Ministers in 2013. However the creation of the positions was later declared unconstitutional.

The Daily Post reports that the Appeal Court said Salwai’s crime was serious enough for him to have received a four-year imprisonment.

But the court said the sentence settled on was for two years and suspended due to the former prime minister’s good behaviour.

As a result, Salwai lost his seat as Pentecost MP because under parliament standing orders if a member is sentenced or receives a suspended sentence for two years or more, their seat becomes vacant.

A by-election is expected to be held in the next two months in Pentecost.

If his appeal is granted Salwai will remain as member of Parliament but it is rejected, there will be a by election on Pentecost in less than 60 days. Salwai is sentenced with perjury following the complaints of then leader of the opposition and deputy prime minister Ishmael Kalsakau. Kalsakau accused Salwai of purjury during the proceedings of constitutionality of the creation of position of parliamentary secretary. President of Republic applied in court and Court declared unconstitutional the creation of the position of parliamentary secretary. Salwai declared in his sworn statement in court that creation of position of parliamentary secretary was approved by Council of Ministers in 2013.

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