TRIAL DATE SET FOR SUSPENDED MARSHALLS CHIEF JUSTICE

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, 8) - Suspended Marshall Islands
Chief Justice Charles Henry will go to trial on August 4 to face 29 charges of
alleged cheating, misuse of government funds and criminal libel.

At a hearing in Majuro, Palau judge Arthur Ngiraklsong found
there was probable cause for moving forward on the charges.

Henry’s lawyer, David Lowe, says the government has no grounds
for suing the judge for libel when he was exercising his
constitutionally-guaranteed free speech rights.

He says it will have a chilling effect on the rights of citizens
to engage in free speech if the government sues people for comments critical of
the government.

Six charges were originally filed, but in a recent amendment,
the Marshall Islands added one count of criminal libel for criticism Henry
levied against the government in a letter to U.S. Senator John McCain.

In the letter, Henry accused the Marshall Islands Government of
human rights abuses, and urged that the new Compact, worth three billion
dollars, not be ratified until protections for foreign workers were instituted.

The letter was later widely quoted by the U.S. media.

May 9, 2003

Radio New Zealand International:
http://www.rnzi.com/

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