25 Sep 2004

Church leader calls for adjournment of Pitcairn trial

9:16 am on 25 September 2004

A leading member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church has called for the immediate adjournment of sex trials on Pitcairn Island.

The trials, in which seven men face 96 separate charges under Britain's Sexual Offences Act, start on Thursday on Pitcairn.

The Adventist Church has been the majority faith among the island's 50-strong community since 1890 and its Pacific Union College in San Francisco hosts a Pitcairn Island Study Centre headed by former missionary Herbert Ford.

Mr Ford says there has been too much irregularity, and apparent pre-agreement toward a given conclusion over this trial.

He says any trial conducted before these very serious matters are carefully studied and resolved would be a gross miscarriage of justice.

Mr Ford says British police officers who investigated the alleged crimes had acted improperly and that Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had refused to study alternatives to the trials.

He says the Pitcairn trial - as presently being pursued - has the potential to destroy an entire indigenous people, and he says that the FCO has indicated in written form that it doesn't matter if that happens.