Jean Baptist Palo was a member of a tribe in Big Bay who were also claiming right of custom ownership of the Land that Steven Quinto set up his Conservation Project called East of Eden. Members of the chiefs of Big Bay, Chief Tavue Tarihi, his two other brothers and Chief Barnabe Tsione of Port Olry who were leaders of Jean Baptist Palo’s tribe met with Jean Baptist Palo and decided to use a police formal statement form to facilitate their evil plans – effectively conspiring to commit an unlawful act. So on the 20th of April 2015, the chiefs met Police Sergeant Jean Baptist Palo at the Police Station in Luganville where the good Sergeant wrote up the false statement.
The contents of the statement was false in nature and malicious with the intention to damage the reputation of Steven Quinto.
The statement alleged that:
Mr Quinto bribed people to acquire customary land
Bribed a custom landowner with a brand new Ford Vehicle
Bribed a custom Landowner with Vt 2,000,000
Was creating unrest in the communities around Big Bay area
Destroyed a Clinic and supply of medicine
Smuggled arms and ammunition and concealed them at Big Bay
The statement was signed by the four chiefs.
Later they used the Police statement to convince the Chairman and Secretary of Tavuemasana Santo Island Council of Chiefs, Chief Levus Tamata Boevono to use their powers to assist their evil plans.
Chief Levus Tamata Boevono and secretary James Surai then wrote a letter to the Police Commander North – Assistant Commissioner Willie Samuel to order his men to carry out a search at Puel Vunsupe Area, Big Bay Bush – where Eden Conservation project was located.
On July 3 2015- Commander North Samuel ordered six ( 6) Police and VMF Officers who accompanied the chiefs to carry out the search, purposely to search for the smuggled arms and ammunition.
The search was illegal as it was carried out without a search warrant.
When the Police and VMF officers entered the Project area, the chiefs then removed keys from a worker of East of Eden and chased them out of the property.
The chiefs then erected Namele leaves to restrain Steven Quinto and his workers from entering the property. They found nothing and so returned to luganville town
Later the same day, when the chairman and secretary of Tavuemasana received correct information about the false statement of Sgt. Palo and the four chiefs, they returned to remove the namele leaves and returned the keys and gave permission for them to return to the property.
The Police false statement was also widely circulated with evil and malicious intention against the Quintos. The statement was also circulated to the Minister of lands, principal valuer, senior planner, CEO of CLMO- Chairman of the Land Management and Planning Committee (CMPC) and the Chairman of Vanuatu Citizenship Commission, most probably with the intention of persuading the Citizenship Commission not to grant citizenship status to the Quintos.
Sgt. Jean Baptist Palo committed a criminal offence being part of the conspiracy case against the Quintos. It is clear he breached the police disciplinary rules and the Police work ethics.
Later on a separate complaint was lodged against Sgt Palo with the Police in Luganville Santo. To date, no action has been taken.
C4J has been pursuing the case with Commander North and the Police Standard Unit to trace and locate the case to no avail.
Mr Quinto has a defamation case being dealt with by his Lawyers. The case was completed in 2016 and is still pending adjudication. More to this story, read our previous blog.