Silas Yatan

Former MP Silas Yatan

Photo: File

Former Member of Parliament (MP), Silas Yatan, has been released on parole last Friday on compassionate grounds, the Correction Director has confirmed.

Director Johnny Marango confirmed to Daily Post that Yatan was released from jail at around 10am last Friday.

Yatan met the requirements demanded by the Parole Board prior to his release. 

Director Marango said that Yatan was diagnosed with heart problem before his imprisonment and was hit by minor stroke once while serving his sentence on conspiracy charge.

The former Tanna MP who had to get treatment overseas needed to be released in order to make it to his appointment in New Caledonia but the board needed the documents within 28 days since July 5 when his hearing was deferred.

Mr Marango said that Yatan’s parole was deferred in July by the Parole Board asking him to provide the name of the hospital he will attend and the return airfare ticket from Bauerfield – Tontouta – Bauerfield.

Yatan provided all required documents and managed to convince the board to grand his freedom back as of last Friday.

The Director said that he took a flight on the evening of the same day of his release to New Caledonia for his appointment with the doctor.

Meanwhile Yatan was among a group of 14 Vanuatu MPs that were jailed on bribery and corruptions charges in 2015.

After being found guilty of the bribery charges in 2015, Marcelino Pipite, who was speaker of parliament, used his temporary powers as acting president to pardon himself and the others.

That decision was subsequently overturned by the late President, Baldwin Lonsdale, and ten of the group, as well as a lawyer, were later found guilty of conspiring to defeat the course of justice.

In April last year, while the men were still in jail on the bribery charges, the Court of Appeal overturned the conspiracy convictions.

However, the Public Prosecutor then filed for retrial of conspiracy charges against the eleven in which six of them pleaded guilty and the other five denied the allegation.

The six were Marcellino Pipite, Silas Yatan, John Amos, Tony Nari, Jonas James and Thomas Laken.

Justice Gustaaf Andree Wiltens handed each of the six former MPs' a jail term of three years and ten months after they pleaded guilty to conspiring to defeat the course of justice.

Justice Wiltens said all the men were intelligent and mature and should have known better that such action would amount to a breach of law that included being banned from taking part in politics and holding public offices.

He rejected their plea to suspend their sentences saying it would send the wrong type of message to the community.

Paul Telukluk, Arnold Prasad, Sebastien Harry, Jean-Yves Chabod, and lawyer Wilson Iauma who were facing the same conspiracy charge pleaded not guilty.

They were later convicted after being found guilty and sent to prison.

Out of the group, Telukluk was pardoned by the President on medical grounds and the release of Yatan last week confirmed that there’s nine of the former MPs still sitting behind bars.

Director Marango said that some of them will be released in October this year.

Early this year there were attempts by the Minister of Justice, Don Ken, to have the men pardoned by the Head of State, but the President says there has to be true forgiveness among political leaders for a pardon to take place.

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