ELEVEN TO BE ARRAIGNED IN MAJOR COOKS DRUG

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Deputy Prime Minister’s son among defendants

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 6, 2011) – Eleven people charged in the Cook Islands largest ever drug bust are to appear in the High Court in Rarotonga today.

They were charged after a combined Cook Islands/New Zealand police exercise, dubbed Operation Eagle.

The defendants include a former New Zealand police officer, Mark Franklin, who’s facing charges of selling illicit drugs and possessing drugs for supply or sale.

Another is Giovanni Marsters, the son of the deputy prime minister, who’s charged with willfully attempting to pervert the course of justice, using, importing and selling drugs.

His partner, a suspended police officer, Inano Matapo, is also facing charges, including seven of accepting bribes.

Their cases are likely to be further adjourned, as evidence is still being analyzed in offshore laboratories.

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