3 Sep 2014

Cooks petition hearings moved to Rarotonga

4:21 pm on 3 September 2014

The High Court in the Cook Islands has ruled the petition hearings for the Penrhyn and Manihiki seats be heard on Rarotonga.

The Chief Justice, Tom Weston, says to sit in Penrhyn and Manihiki could take four days or possibly more, and the cost of chartering a plane is about 26,000 US dollars.

He has now directed the hearings to take place in Rarotonga for three days beginning next Monday, with witnesses in Manihiki or Penrhyn to be heard by way of Skype link.

Nine petitions were lodged with the High Court challenging last July's election results.

The Cook Islands Party had filed a petition for Murienua on Rarotonga but later requested it be discontinued.

The remaining petitions are from the Democratic Party and include its leader Wilkie Rasmussen's Penrhyn electorate and the caretaker Prime Minister Henry Puna's seat in Manihiki.

The Cooks Islands Party won a majority with 13 seats, but the Democratic Party says bribery and invalid votes tarnished the results.

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Photo: RNZ