Supreme Court to hear criminal charges against Climate Change Minister

The Supreme Court of Vanuatu is to hear a criminal case against Vanuatu’s Minister of Climate Change on 6 April.

This comes after the Magistrate Court Judge, Beverly Kanas Joshua, read out six charges against Minister Bruno Leingkone earlier this month.

The charges relate to allegations that in the first week of May last year, Minister Leingkon was intoxicated onboard a flight departing Luganville for Port Vila, forcing the plane to be returned to Santo.

Mr Leingkone was part of a delegation visiting cyclone-affected communities in northern Vanuatu.

There were no incidents reported on board the flight, but Vanuatu aviation regulations prohibit aircrafts from carrying an intoxicated person.

The charges laid against Minister Leingkone included that his actions put the safety of passengers on an aircraft in danger, allegedly breaching section 18(1) of the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004.

Other charges were that he had breached sections 21 and 22 of the Aviation Security Act No 10 of 2007 by being intoxicated on an aircraft and failing to act in accordance with a command from the pilot during the flight.

Minister Leingkone is also charged with failing to comply with and observe the law, contrary to section 19 and subsection 13 (1) (a) of the Leadership Code Cap 240.

In the Magistrates’ Court, Judge Joshua ruled there was sufficient evidence to justify the court proceeding to try the case [a prima facie case] against the Minister and ruled the charges were beyond the jurisdiction of the Magistrates’ Court.

At the 6 April hearing in the Supreme Court the prosecution will present 12 witnesses to testify against the Minister, including a Member of Parliament for the Ambrym constituency.

Minister Leignkone is a National United Party member and is one of ten elected MPs from the constituency of Ambrym.

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