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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May, 2005, 04:04 GMT 05:04 UK
Pitcairn sex case men lose appeal
Pitcairn's mayor Steve Christian
Pitcairn mayor Steve Christian was sacked after being convicted of rape
An appeal by six men found guilty of sexually abusing young girls on a remote UK territory in the South Pacific has failed.

The men, from Pitcairn - where fewer than 50 people live - claimed they had not realised English law applied there.

But prosecutors argued islanders were subject to Britain's laws for most of the island's 200-year history.

Four men, including Pitcairn's former mayor Steve Christian, were sentenced to prison for two to six years.

Two others were given non-custodial sentences in 2004 for raping underage girls.

The Bounty

The Pitcairn Supreme Court, at a special sitting in Auckland, rejected claims that the men were unaware that British law applied on Pitcairn, and that their trial was unfair.

On Tuesday, the court is due to hear discussions on whether the convicted Pitcairners would be granted bail.

Until now the sentences have been effectively suspended and the convicted men have been free on Pitcairn.

The six men were convicted of rape and indecent assault charges last October.

They are due to launch another appeal before the Privy Council in London either later this year or early next year, based on a claim Britain did not have legal jurisdiction over Pitcairn.

The island was settled by mutineers on board HMS Bounty in 1789. Steve Christian is a descendent of Fletcher Christian, one of the mutineers.

Britain's sovereignty over the island may be challenged

Pitcairn guilty launch challenge
04 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Sex case island picks woman mayor
08 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Pitcairn sex trial men sentenced
29 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Pitcairn facing a fragile future
25 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Pitcairn men win right to appeal
12 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific

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