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One of the 14 former members of Vanuatu Parliament convicted and sentenced by the Supreme Court in 2015 on corruption and bribery charges has said his application for parole has been turned down four times.
Daily Post met Tony Wright at the Vila Central Hospital, where he was admitted at the Medical Ward and being treated for his medical condition, which he said was kidney related.
The inmate said his application was for parole on compassionate grounds so that he can seek medical service in New Caledonia for his condition.
He said doctors in Vanuatu have advised that his condition has reached stage four, which may require dialysis.
Wright said he only wanted to get medical treatment in Noumea, New Caledonia, because none of that service he needs is available here in Vanuatu.
He said his parole applications in the past for consideration by the Community Parole Board included medical reports from more than one doctor.
In his previous application Wright alleged that he was told that his application should reach the Parole Board five days before the board meets.
In the last application by Wright, the Community Parole Board, which the Correctional Service Department says is an independent body, decided not to consider the inmate’s submission because it says there was no written application to be considered by the board.
When informing Daily Post of the Parole Board’s decision, Director Johnny Marango said the board decided that the “medical report and certification cannot amount to an application required by the Parole Board policy on compassionate grounds Part c, Section 7, Step 2”.
Wright said he was not advised before his last application that it required a written application, which is why his wife only assisted him to submit medical reports.
The Parole Board consists of a Judge of the Supreme Court or a Magistrate of the Magistrates Court who is the chairperson, appointed by the Chief Justice and two other persons who must be of high standing in the community, one of whom must be a woman.
According to the Correctional Services Act, the other Board members are to be appointed by the Minister responsible for Correctional after consultation with the Director.
The Act says a member of the Board has a term of three years and may be reappointed.
Apart from compassionate grounds, the Act also provides different criteria for parole eligibility that includes eligibility “for consideration by a community parole board for release on parole upon the expiry of a half of his or her sentence”.
Wright further questioned why his illness has reached near critical stage but his application has not been considered compared to inmates that were allegedly released in the past for asthma and eye conditions.
Daily Post witnessed a week ago another inmate and former Member of Parliament, Arnold Prasad being pushed in a wheelchair at the Vila Central Hospital.
And Daily Post was informed that with Prasad’s reported diabetic condition, one of his toes has been operated.
Other inmates in the group of 14 former members of parliament that reportedly have submitted applications in the past for compassionate release include John Amos, Paul Telukluk and Silas Yatan.
Daily Post has been informed by prison sources that two former leaders that will be eligible for parole next month (April) are Steven Kalsakau and Serge Vohor.
This has also been confirmed by the Correctional Services Department to Daily Post in April last year.
All these former members of parliament are serving time after they were found guilty of corruption and bribery by the Supreme Court in 2015.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
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