23 Jan 2006

Drug dealing suspects given bail because government slow to get evidence

9:41 am on 23 January 2006

A judge in the Marshall Islands has had to grant two suspected drug dealers bail after they'd been jailed for nearly five months while evidence was prepared.

Prosecutors told the court that drug evidence had still not been sent to an off-island laboratory for analysis despite police confiscating the suspected cocaine last September.

Laboratory confirmation that the white powder confiscated by police is actually cocaine is a key part of the government's case.

There are no laboratories in the Marshall Islands that can do drug analysis.

The closest laboratories are in Guam - a 10-hour flight to the west - or in Honolulu - a five-hour flight east.

Marshall Islands Attorney General, Posesi Bloomfield, said that a lack of response from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Guam led to an extended delay in getting the drug evidence shipped off for testing.

Mr Bloomfield said the material was now being posted.