Vanuatu judge storms out after chief reappears in traditional garb

12:35 pm on 26 October 2016-RNZI

In Vanuatu a Supreme Court Judge has stormed out of his court in Port Vila after a chief and some of his men again turned up in traditional dress, defying a court order.

The group jailed for contempt: Chief Viraleo Boborenvanua and eight men from Pentecost dressed in traditional garb.

The group jailed for contempt: Chief Viraleo Boborenvanua and eight men from Pentecost dressed in traditional garb. Photo: Dan McGarry / Vanuatu Daily Post

Chief Viraleo Boborenvanua and eight men from East Pentecost who are facing numerous criminal charges were charged with contempt of court last week for wearing their local garb.

Judge David Chetwynd did not approve and said they showed no respect for his court.

He jailed them for 72 hours then released them on bail to seek legal representation and to reappear in normal clothes.

Men from Pentecost taken to jail for contempt of court after wearing traditional attire in the Supreme Court.

Men from Pentecost taken to jail for contempt of court after wearing traditional attire in the Supreme Court. Photo: Dan McGarry / Vanuatu Daily Post

The Daily Post Newspaper reports the men reappeared in custom dress on Tuesday which infuriated the judge.

He noted their not guilty plea, then remanded them until next year, slammed the door shut and left the men in the courtroom.

The case has piqued much interest in Vanuatu as it is the first time a chief has defied a court order, saying his rights had been infringed by the order to wear normal clothes.

Judge Chetwynd said the issue is a serious criminal case and not a custom case, and the chief and his men have shown disrespect for his court by wearing their custom dress.

The men were first remanded at the end of last year on criminal charges of arson, riot, threat to kill, intentional assault and malicious damage to property.

The Vanuatu Post reports Chief Viraleo and five of the other defendants were remanded in custody by the Judge until the trial date set for March next year.

Three other defendants who are minors have been allowed to return to Pentecost.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *