Police arrest politicians who pardoned themselves after bribery convictions

Police arrest politicians who pardoned themselves after bribery convictions
Marcellino Pipite

Eleven of the 14 renegade lawmakers who last week created political chaos when one of them granted himself and the others pardons from corruption convictions while the president was abroad have now been arrested.

The arrests came after Vanuatu president Baldwin Lonsdale tried to reassert control by revoking the pardons.

The politicians were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defeat the course of justice, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

On October 9, the Supreme Court found parliament speaker Marcellino Pipite and 13 others guilty of bribery.

A judge said many had accepted bribes of a million vatu (€7,940) to help overthrow the previous government.

The next day, Pipite signed a pardon for himself and the others. Because the president was away, Pipite was the acting head of state.

The Vanuatu Daily Post said the arrests were sparked by a meeting 11 of the convicted politicians had before the pardons were issued.

Three others did not attend the meeting, according to the newspaper.

Pipite told reporters he signed the pardons to maintain stability in the nation of 275,000 people, but the move angered many people in Vanuatu, who had hoped the verdicts would mark an end to the corruption which has plagued the country's political system.

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