26 Sep 2020

High profile murder case in FSM to finally proceed after Covid delays

4:31 pm on 26 September 2020

The court cases related to the high-profile murder of a high level official from the Federated States of Micronesia are finally expected to progress next month.

Anthony Teteeth and Frances Buchun are charged in connection with the murder of Yap State's former acting Attorney-General, Rachelle Bergeron.

Rachelle Bergeron, who was acting Attorney General of the State of Yap.

Rachelle Bergeron, who was acting Attorney General of the State of Yap. Photo: Facebook / Yap State Government Public Information Service

The US citizen was shot outside her home in October 2019 in a rare act of violence for the small island state.

The Yap State and FSM National court cases concerning the killing have been delayed, hampered by a travel ban announced in January because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a result, the defense and prosecuting attorneys and judge, who are based in Pohnpei and Chuuk, have been unable to travel to Yap with air links severed between the states.

Pre-trial hearings for the firearms and ammunition charges were held at the FSM National Supreme Court in December 2019 and more were scheduled for February, but the latter were also cancelled since evidential reports had not yet arrived from the United States.

Status conferences between the judge and attorneys have also been affected.

A conference call was finally held on 3 September to discuss how to proceed and it was agreed that future hearings would be held via Zoom with the defendants sitting in the FSM Supreme Court courtroom in Yap.

No further dates have been set on the weapons and ammunition charges.

However the Yap State Supreme Court has set 29 and 30 October for both defendants to address the State's Criminal Complaints, a total of 19 counts ranging from murder and manslaughter to firearms possession.

Judge, law, lawyer and Justice concept with a 3d render of a gavel on a wooden desktop with grey background.

Photo: 123RF