12 Feb 2013

CNMI House impeaches Governor on all 18 charges

3:30 pm on 12 February 2013

The Northern Marianas House of Representatives has impeached the Governor, Benigno Fitial, on a total of 18 charges of felony, corruption and neglect of duty.

Mr Fitial, a Republican, is the first governor of any U.S. insular area to be impeached.

The impeachment process now moves to the Senate where a trial will be held.

If at least six of the nine-member Senate convict Mr Fitial he will be removed from his post.

The articles adopted by the House include the unauthorised release of a prison inmate to allegedly give the governor a massage at his private residence early one morning three years ago.

Another issue is the governor's commitment to a sole-source 190 million US dollar power purchase agreement with a Delaware based company.

Other charges include the awarding of a sole-source federal government management contract worth almost $400,000 and the failure to remove the former attorney general, Edward Buckingham, for legal violations and for frustrating attempts to have him served a penal summons.