Sentencing of CNMI's Fitial "historic"

8:23 pm on 25 June 2015

Various groups in the Northern Marianas have spoken out in support of the one-year sentence handed down to the former governor, Benigno Fitial.

The 69-year-old has been convicted of misconduct in public office and conspiracy to commit theft of services.

Fitial argued the only personal benefit he ever received while in office was a back massage from a prisoner he summoned from the territory's jail.

At sentencing, Superior Court judge David Wiseman said Fitial's misconduct had eroded public trust in government.

He said Fitial's decision to summon law enforcement officers to help the former Attorney General, Edward Buckingham, flee the territory to avoid a penal summons in 2012 smacked of blatant arrogance.

A citizen activist, Glen Hunter, says yesterday's decision is historic and shows that no matter how powerful somebody is, they are not above the law.

However, a legislature representative Edwin Propst says Fitial's sentencing is nothing to celebrate and the saga is something everyone needs to learn from.