Palau Vice President Antonio Bells will receive an appropriation of $25,000 to pay for legal fees incurred in defending himself against misconduct in public office charges filed by the defunct Interim Special Prosecutor Office.
The reimbursement was a rider to the 4.26 million supplemental budget bill, which President Remengesau recently signed into law.
In a statement, President Tommy Remengesau justified the reimbursement saying that Bells was sued carrying out his official duties.
“When elected officials and employees are carrying out their official duties for the Republic’s benefit they must be provided adequate support in all aspects including defense against legal claims. If such support is not provided, then the Republic runs the risk of not receiving the best service from its elected officials and employees because of fear of consequences and lack of adequate support from the government,” Remengesau explained.
Last year, former Interim Special Prosecutor Melissa Simms, filed a misconduct of public office and code of ethics charges against Bells. On Jan. 11, 2016 however, Simms filed a motion to dismiss those charges.
In a separate statement Vice President Antonio Bells thanked Sens. Mark Rudimch and Hokkons Baules for including the rider in the supplemental budget legislation.
“It was unfortunate that I had to spend my own money, (and now the government’s) for paying the cost of a bogus case that was filed against me as head of the Republic of Palau’s legal justice and later dismissed,” Bells said in a statement. (here is VP's statement)
Click here to read President Remengesau's Statement