26 Aug 2009

Passport scam accused wants charges heard on marae

5:07 pm on 26 August 2009

The man accused of running a passport scam targeting Pacific Island over-stayers says his charges should be heard on a marae under Maori tikanga, or custom.

Gerard Otimi and two others appeared in Manukau District Court on Wednesday to face charges after false residency papers were allegedly issued in the name of a Maori hapu for $500.

Judge said shifting the matter to a marae because it was what Mr Otimi called a "tikanga situation" was outside his jurisdiction.

Mr Otimi is facing a fresh charge of giving immigration advice without a licence and is already facing 36 charges of altering documents with intent to deceive.

Slade Afakasi is charged with two counts and Eseta Tuiavii with three counts of altering documents with intent to cause loss.

About 40 people gathered on the court steps waving banners in support of Mr Otimi.

The accused were granted bail until 17 September.