Former Vanuatu ministers appear on bribery and corruption charges

The former Prime Minister of Vanuatu Charlot Salwai and a number of his former cabinet members have appeared in court on bribery and corruption charges.

Mr Salwai was accompanied by former Minister of Agriculture, Matai Seremaiah, former Minister of Health, Jerome Ludvaune and the former MP for Tafea Outer Islands, Tom Korr at the magistrate court in Port Vila on Monday.

During the preliminary inquiry the public prosecutor asked to have the case committed to the Supreme Court for trial.

The lawyer representing Mr Seremaiah told court that the prosecution case was entirely misconceived.

He said the prosecution has failed to provide any evidence that the public and transparent process of appointment in the case was corrupt.

The four defendants were charged with offences of bribery and corruption and associated charges under the leadership code.

Mr Salwai was also charged with perjury.

The main complainant in the case is the former Leader of the Opposition and current Deputy Prime Minister, Ishmael Kalsakau.

Mr Kalsakau alleged that in November 2016, the four defendants bribed MPs who signed a motion of no confidence against the prime minister that ultimately failed.

The Magistrate Court will deliver its ruling on 29 July.