22 Jun 2007

Defence lawyer wants witnesses in beating case assembled at the scene of the alleged crime

9:50 am on 22 June 2007

The defence attorney for the former warden of the American Samoa prison has filed a motion with the federal court in Honolulu asking that jurors selected for his trial be allowed to view the Territorial Correction Facility in American Samoa, instead of depending on testimony from eyewitnesses.

Mika Kelemete's attorney Alexander Silvert filed the motion on Wednesday.

Kelemete is accused of beating an inmate in 2003.

Mr Silvert says government and defense will each present witnesses to the August 30, 2003 incident; all of whom will testify that they could view the incident from different vantage points.

However Mr Silvert says some witnesses will dispute whether the other witnesses could, from their vantage point, see the incident at all.

He says that for the jury to adequately judge the conflicting testimony they must be able to visit the scene of the incident and stand in the shoes of those witnesses.

Mr Silvert also said that cost and transportation should not be a factor in the court's decision, just because the case was being heard in Honolulu.

He says the government should be prepared to take on the financial burden of bringing the case in the District of Hawaii rather than an American Samoa Court.