8 Jan 2003

Suspended Marshall chief justice attacks trial delays

5:49 pm on 8 January 2003

Suspended Marshall Islands Chief Justice, Charles Henry say that the country's high court is violating his right to a lawyer of his choice and a speedy trial because of delays in his cheating trial.

Henry, an American, is charged with four counts of cheating relating to alleged travel abuses and was to stand trial on January 13.

However, the Public Defender, Daniel Goundar filed a motion to delay the trial date to Jan 27 because it better suited the schedule of the presiding judge, Arthur Ng-irak-l-song who is Palau's Chief Justice.

The trial was further delayed by the special prosecutor, David Strauss, who says that he needed more time to investigate the charges and look at claims that Henry made against the Marshall Islands to an American paper.

In a statement to the Baltimore Sun, Henry urged the US congress to delay approving a 1 billion US dollar funding package to the Marshalls until amendments preventing human rights abuses were imposed.

Henry was originally charged in October with seven counts of cheating, but a mid-November hearing resulted in the dismissial of three charges.