No longer fear in speaking out in CNMI - advocate

8:03 am on 29 June 2015

An anti-corruption advocate in the Northern Marianas says people are no longer afraid to speak up about corruption after last week's sentencing of the former governor.

Former governor Benigno Fitial

Former governor Benigno Fitial Photo: RNZ Mark Rabago

Benigno Fitial was sentenced to one in year in jail after he was convicted of misconduct in public office and conspiracy to commit theft of services while he was governor until 2013.

Fitial had shielded his former attorney general as he fled the territory to avoid a penal summons, and released a prisoner in the middle of the night to give him a back massage.

Glen Hunter, who was one of the first people to speak out about the case, says corruption under Fitial had pervaded many branches of law enforcement, and it was up to the people to speak up.

He says there are still concerns about corruption in the CNMI, but things have greatly improved.

"It's going to be an ongoing battle and it's going to be an ongoing struggle out here a little bit to fight public corruption and I don't think there's every an end goal anywhere in the world. But what I've noticed is, since the first people started speaking out - there was a strong climate of fear prior to...that climate of fear is gone, it's dissipated, there's almost no more sense of fear at least, people can speak openly."

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