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Court session cancelled due to technical issues

Monday 21 February 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Court, National

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Court session cancelled due to technical issues
Cook Islands Ministry of Justice. Photo: Supplied/ 21051809

Technical difficulties meant Friday’s High Court session in Avarua was cancelled.

The court session was to be presided by Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams who was going to appear via telecommunications app Zoom from New Zealand.

The technical problems meant three criminal sentences were forced to be postponed.

Rutril Enoka was to be sentenced for conspiring to sell cannabis, Tepine Tama was also to be sentenced on the same charge. Both people are represented by defence lawyer Mark Short.

Derek Trego was going to be sentenced for arson and three counts of contempt of court, and represented by Lavi Rokoika.

There were a further five matters that were supposed to be brought before Friday’s session.

Cook Islands News was not able to verify when these matters will be dealt with.

Prior to Covid-19, Zoom had not been part of the Cook Islands court system but is now used on a regular basis.

Judges based in New Zealand, lawyers and witnesses have all been called into a Cook Islands court room via the app.

Speaking to Cook Islands News last year, judge Dame Judith Potter said the introduction of Zoom in the Cook Islands Court system has been a very positive step but did have limitations. 

“Zoom is not suitable for jury trials in which a jury comprising 12 members of the public must be accommodated and are essentially involved in the trial,” the Judge Potter said.

“Nor will it usually be suited to cases when witnesses are giving evidence in person unless the witnesses are police or experts such as doctors, forensic scientists who are called to give evidence on topics of their expertise.”