8 Jul 2003

Cook Islands top official wants new trial after guilty plea

4:04 pm on 8 July 2003

A former chief of staff in the Cook Islands prime minister's office is to appeal for a new trial, following his change in plea from guilty to not guilty.

Eddie Drollet is charged with receiving almost 15 thousand U.S. dollars of public money into his bank account from ACL, a company he hired to do the PM's office accounts.

His new lawyer, Norman George, says he didn't receive an adequate defence in the trial which has been adjourned until September.

"As his counsel I'd prefer a new trial, but there's argument to continue from where the pleas changed, and at this stage I've got instructions to file an appeal to our Court of Appeal, to start a new trial altogether."

A reliable source says the chief justice has ruled that an appeal can only be made once the trial is ended.