Herbert Ford, 559-592-0980, 559-732-0313.
FIRST 'PITCAIRN TRIALS' COMMUNICATION ATTEMPT FAILS
ANGWIN (Napa County) Calif., May 26, 2003—The failure of a first attempt to use a satellite communication link between tiny, remote Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific Ocean and New Zealand to conduct a criminal trial the Pitcairners contend should be held only on Pitcairn, has left some of the islanders wondering if friendly cosmic forces aren't working in their behalf.
A small group of Pitcairn men, having been charged with sexual criminality by their British overlords, were to have had pre-deposition hearings that were satellite-linked to New Zealand on Friday, May 23, at 2:30 p.m.
On Pitcairn were New Zealand attorney Paul Dacre, the public defender of the men; a court clerk, and electronics specialist Bill Haigh. In Auckland, New Zealand, were Magistrate Grey Cameron and the trials' public prosecutor Simon Moore.
The seven Pitcairners, previously charged when a delegation of legal types and police officers voyaged by air and by sea to Pitcairn, were told to wait in the cold, rainy day outside the courthouse in the community square for the hearing to begin.
But after two hours of waiting the men were told to go home. The hearing was called off because of an immediately unfixable glitch in the satellite communication link. The men were told the hearing would be rescheduled for July 3. "It was a real circus today," said an islander of the failed attempt to electronically link the remote South Pacific island and New Zealand.
The Pitcairners have steadfastly maintained that any trial for a crime committed on Pitcairn should be tried on Pitcairn only. The island's British-appointed governor says it would be too costly to bring the necessary legal machinery to the island to do that. The British even got New Zealand to pass a law that allows Pitcairners to be tried in a foreign land. But money worries have not kept the British government from spending unknown thousands of dollars building a three-cell jail complex and other structures on Pitcairn that are connected to the trials. Or of spending additional thousands in transporting and housing a government representative, and police and social workers to keep watch over the fewer than 30 adult Pitcairners on the island. "Aside from the right of our case, can you imagine all the thousands and thousands of dollars that have been spent on setting this up for the big day and then having the whole thing fail," said a Pitcairner of the failed communication attempt..
Others believe friendly if unknown cosmic forces are working in the Pitcairners' behalf. "Nearly everyone here is cracking up laughing at the whole situation. It has been a circus. The lads were sitting in the square for nearly two hours and it was cold too."