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11 June 2021
Friday 7 May 2021 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Crime, National
The northern group Island of Penrhyn. 18091333
The prosecution withdrew charges due to insufficient
evidence and Justice of the Peace Bernice Manarangi dismissed the charges.
Turama was charged following an investigation by the Cook
Islands Audit Office which confirmed over $7000 in public funds was missing.
The report said the Audit Office felt there was sufficient
evidence that Turama’s actions were illegal. After the report, Turama was
charged with theft as a servant.
The matter was first called in Penrhyn on January 13 this
year and last month it fell off the court list.
In court yesterday, Turama’s defence lawyer Wilkie Rasmussen
said the matter was withdrawn strangely and he wanted it formally dismissed.
Rasmussen said it’s his understanding the investigation is still underway because no other person has been charged with stealing the money.
Lawyer Rasmussen said because the investigation is still
underway, he didn’t want his client to be re-charged.
In an email to Crown prosecution on May 4, Rasmussen said:
“I understand the defendant has now been reinstated to her job in Penrhyn and
that raises a different set of legal issues to consider.”
“But most importantly from her point of view, has she been
properly acquitted so the police will not be able to re-lay the same charge
Rasmussen said “substantial expenses” have been spent
dealing with the matter and that he would like his client to be reimbursed. The
decision of costs will be decided by a judge.
Part of the Audit report’s recommendations was that more
than one staff member should be involved in the financial dealings of
electricity sales, so the problem does not arise again.
The report said at a minimum, the finance officer should
review the accuracy of the financial process.