MARSHALLS OUST AWOL CHIEF JUSTICE

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By Aenet Rowa

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe Online, Sept. 25) – Sources
say suspended Marshall Islands Chief Justice Charles Henry was voted out of
office by the Nitijela yesterday.

Judge Henry had been scheduled to go to trial August 4 to face
29 charges of cheating, misuse of government funds and libel.

After receiving a week's extension due to health problems, Henry
then failed to show for the trial.

The former judge had been allowed to return to California while
awaiting trial. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and in September, Justice
Minister Witten Philippo introduced a resolution in parliament calling for Henry’s
removal from the High Court.

The charges of cheating and fraud against the former RMI judge
were made in an October 2002 investigation conducted by former Justice Allen
Fields. Fields, embroiled in his own criminal trial for misdeamenour sex charges
in California, left Marshall Islands in January 2003.

The RMI government officially accepted Supreme Court Judge Allen
Fields' resignation in July.

Henry, a retired California Siskiyou County judge who was hired
as RMI Chief Justice in 2001, first claimed it was simply "a contract
disagreement" over trips and expenditures. He was originally charged with
six counts of cheating and one of attempted cheating for taking $14,921.46 in
travel expenses and salary payments for which he was not entitled.

Three of seven charges of cheating were dismissed in November,
and Henry was allowed to return to the United States until the trial, which was
rescheduled for January, 2003.

In December, Henry took his case to the media and a U.S.
Congressman, claiming that the charges were retaliation for his efforts to
thwart widespread abuses in the adoption of Marshallese children in the United
States.

Four months later, the RMI responded with the hire of a new
prosecuting attorney, David Strauss, who petitioned to amend charges to 16
counts of cheating, 12 counts of misconduct in office, one of embezzlement, and
one count of libel.

The defense had argued that Henry had been denied constitutional
rights to a speedy trial when the trials were postponed several times. It is
reported that Henry claimed medical problems and lack sufficient funds as
reasons for not returning to the Marshalls for trial in August.

September 26, 2003

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