A legal tug of war has begun between the former General Manager (GM) of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund, Parmod Achary and the Public Prosecutor (PP).

On July 30, Mr Achary filed a notice and memorandum of appeal against his conviction.

At that time, the Supreme Court found Achary, an Indo-Fijian, guilty of multiple instances of harassment against female VNPF staff members.

The harassment took place on numerous occasions between 2020 and 2021.

Justice Viran Molisa Trief has established the conviction beyond reasonable doubt.

Achary was specifically charged with five counts of acts of indecency without consent, as per section 98(a)(i) of the Vanuatu Penal Code (Amendment) Act No. 25 of 2006, and five counts of breach of the Leadership Code Act, as per section 5(f) of the Vanuatu Leadership Code Act [CAP 240].

During the trial, the court determined that the evidence presented by the GM and the other defence witnesses was not reliable or credible.

Justice Trief emphasised that these testimonies did not assist in establishing the truth of the matter, although she acknowledged that some portions were truthful and accurate.

The GM made several denials in response to the charges, but there were no independent defence witnesses to corroborate his claims.

The Supreme Court Judge stated that she did not believe some of Mr Achary’s own evidence and found inconsistencies in certain testimonies. In contrast, she accepted the credibility and accuracy of the evidence presented by all ten prosecution witnesses in relation to the ten criminal charges.

Mr Achary’s appeal is scheduled for next week.

Meanwhile, the office of the Public Prosecutor told the Daily Post yesterday that they will appeal against the sentencing and they have 14 days to submit the appeal.

On July 2, the Supreme Court delivered a sentence of 18 months jail to Mr Achary, suspended for two years after he was found guilty of indecency without consent.

He was also ordered to pay a fine of VT200, 000 to each of the five victims within a period of three months, for his failure to comply with and observe the law, and breaching the Leadership Code Act.

The court said the reason for the sentence suspension was that although the offending was serious, there was no skin-to-skin genitalia contact.

Achary has had 71 years of good character, the strong support of his family and community, plus his contributions to the community and strong family and community ties that helped favour the sentence suspension.