20 Dec 2002

Marshall Islands government hires new lawyer to prosecute suspended chief justice

10:50 am on 20 December 2002

The Marshall Islands Government has gone on the offensive against its suspended High Court chief Justice after he had levelled accusations of human abuses and corruption against the Government.

The Government this week hired a private practice lawyer David Strauss to prosecute the suspended Chief Justice David Henry, who faces charges of cheating and attempted cheating in relation to his contract.

Last week Mr Henry made allegations in the Baltimore Sun newspaper that he was being prosecuted in retaliation for his work in cleaning up the international adoption process in the Marshalls.

The judge claimed his prosecution is an abuse of human rights.

The paper also reported that after the judge had been charged he initiated a letter writing campaign to the US Congress urging it delay its approval of a billion dollar aid package.

The Marshall's Governments new lawyer has managed to win an indefinite delay on the trial which had been scheduled to start at the end of January.

The Palau judge brought in specifically to hear the allegations against Henry has halted all motions pending a telephone status conference on February 28th.

Meanwhile Henry has filed a motion through the Public Defender seeking Americans to sit on the jury at the trial.

He says without Americans on the jury he will be denied equal protection of the law.

Henry has also rejected a Government offer to settle the case out of court.