13 Jan 2011

Chile judge replaced in Rapa Nui occupation case

2:01 pm on 13 January 2011

A court of appeal in Chile has agreed to replace the judge Bernardo Toro who was tasked to hear an Easter Island case over land occupations.

This follows a challenge by the defence lawyer of the 17 Rapa Nui people who are to stand trial tomorrow for the way they seized the Hanga Roa Hotel last August.

They are accused of intimidation in taking over the hotel but the members of the Hito clan say they want to reclaim ancestral land that was sold on without their consent.

There have been a series of occupations based on traditional land claims, prompting the Chilean government to send in special police to dislodge the Rapa Nui.

The level of force used in the actions has been criticised by international organisations.