Defendants, Former PM Charlot Salwai, MP Matai Seremiah and former MP Jerome Ludvaune at Dumbea premises yesterday

Former Prime Minister (PM), Charlot Salwai, Member of Parliament (MP) for Luganville, Matai Seremaiah, former MP for TAFEA Outer-Islands, Tomker Netvunei and former MP for Malekula, Jerome Ludvaune, will stand trial for plea before the Supreme Court on corruption related charges on September 1, 2020.

The decision was made by Magistrate Anna Laloyer yesterday morning during the committal of the case.

Laloyer said she was satisfied that there is a prima facie case against the defendants.

The defendants will comply with the bail orders by the Supreme Court.

They are implicated in 11 respective charges contrary to the Penal Code and the Leadership Code, following events that were said to have occurred on November 22 or 23 of 2016, in Port Vila.

Salwai is facing two counts of corruption and bribery of officials contrary to section 73 (2) of the Penal Code [CAP 135], an offence that carries up to 10 years imprisonment.

He is also facing two counts of bribery against section 23 of the Leadership Code Act and two additional counts of conflict of interest against section 24 of that Act as well as one count of perjury against section 17 of the Penal Code. It was alleged that Salwai bribed former Malekula MP Ludvaune by offering him with a portfolio of the Health Minister to convince him to withdraw his signature on a motion of a no confidence vote against himself, as the then PM.

Salwai is also accused of bribing Netvunei by offering and later appointing him to the position of the Parliamentary Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Agriculture with the intention of influencing Netvunei’s no confidence vote.

Former MPs Netvunei and Ludvaune allegedly corruptly received the offers of the appointments.

MP Seremaiah was charged on grounds of facilitating the process involving removal of signatories on the motion of no confidence.

The Prosecution’s case is that the conduct also allegedly involved the former PM acting in a manner to achieve a benefit for himself in a position of conflict as a leader- that benefit being said for himself when in a position of conflict as a leader — that benefit being said to be his continuation in the position of the Prime Minister and leader of the Government.

Minister of Education and Training (MoET), Simeon Seule was initially a defendant in the matter, however in June, the Public Prosecutor declared in the Magistrates Court that charges against Seule have been withdrawn and he is a prosecution witness.

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