17 Jan 2011

Easter Islands awaits judge to deal with Rapa Nui occupation

4:18 pm on 17 January 2011

There appears to be a deadlock in finding a legal resolution to the land dispute between Easter Island's Rapa Nui and the Chilean investors seeking to complete a hotel seized by an indigenous clan.

The island's court is awaiting a judge from the mainland next month after the legal officer standing in as the island's acting judge declined to call the hearing, saying he has been on friendly terms with some of the Rapa Nui accused of seizing the Hanga Roa complex.

The occupation is the culmination of a long-running land dispute, with the Hito clan insisting that the hotel is being built on land taken from them.

Susan Hito, who is the wife of a US-based Rapa Nui activist, says tension is high as police have blocked access to the disputed occupied site.

"The big problem is that there is no law on the island right now. There is no judge who can hear this case or adjudicate this case and the Chilean courts have said they can't hear the case."