11 Oct 2003

Cook Islands Appeal Court rejects Drollett application as absurd

9:42 am on 11 October 2003

An application for a mid-trial change to a fraud case has been turned down by the Cook Islands Court of Appeal.

Former chief of staff in the office of the prime minister, Edward Drollett, was allowed to change his plea and his defence team a second time but was refused a change from trial by a judge alone to trial by jury.

Mr Drollett is charged with taking 25 thousand dollars in kickbacks from an accountancy firm he contracted to manage the books of the office of former prime minister, Dr Terepai Maoate.

This morning's Cook Islands News reports that the Appeal Court ruled against Mr Drollett's application saying it would set a precedent with "absurd results" for future cases.

Heard in Auckland, Mr Drollett's application was handled by government lawyer, Norman George.

The judges said the trial had already started, had heard witnesses and could not be ended.

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