28 Aug 2003

Cook islands chief of staff appeals no jury decision

9:20 am on 28 August 2003

Police in the Cook Islands are proceeding with a corruption case involving an official in the office of the prime minister.

Edward Drollet, the former chief of staff, is accused of forgery and illegally receiving almost 25 thousand dollars.

Mr Drollet is now appealling a decision in July by Justice Norman Smith not to let him stand trial before a jury.

Justice Smith refused the jury application after accepting a change of plea - the second change requested by Drollet.

before the start of the trial in the Cook islands high Court, Mr Drollet pleaded not guilty.

He changed that to guilty after hearing evidence on the first day.

Later, the former chief of staff sacked his lawyers, including one from New Zealand, and changed his plea back to not guilty.

His appeal will be heard during a special sitting of the Cook Appeal Court in Auckland late next month.