28 Sep 2004

Tensions rising on Pitcairn as final preparations made for sex abuse trial

7:42 am on 28 September 2004

Last minute legal preparations are being made on the small island of Pitcairn in the Pacific, ahead of the trial of seven islanders on sex abuse charges.

Three judges and members of legal teams, all of them New Zealanders, have arrived on the island ahead of the trial, which begins on Thursday.

They have nearly doubled the normal population of 47 and our reporter says there is a detectable rise in tension among the island community.

The charges against the seven men, which include rape and indecent assault, have been hanging over the Pitcairn community for four years.

The defendants, all residents of the remote British dependency, were given a final opportunity last week to plead guilty, and reduce their chances of long jail sentences.

They were offered the option of restorative justice, a process that would bring them face to face with victims and require them to make reparations.

But they have shown no inclination to accept it, insteading mounting challenges to Britain's authority.