28 Mar 2012

Cook Islands drugs bust allegations may be reduced ahead of July trials

2:53 pm on 28 March 2012

Crown prosecutors in the Cook Islands have been advised to reduce the number of charges laid against eight people following a major drugs raid last year.

The eight, who include a son of the deputy prime minister and a former New Zealand police detective, are to go to jury trials in July.

In a preliminary hearing this week one of the defence lawyers, Norman George, raised concerns about what he called cluster charges, with people charged more than once for the same offence.

The Chief Justice, Tom Weston, acknowledged Mr George's concerns, and urged the Crown to consider reducing the charges.

He says his impression is that there is a fair bit of repetition and charging someone with 30 very similar offences is not going to make much difference to any sentence.

The Chief Justice says trials of this magnitude are a challenge for the Cook Islands, so there is a need to make the process as manageable as possible.