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Last Updated:  Thursday, 10 April, 2003, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Pitcairn sex trial hearing held
A court hearing is under way on the tiny Pacific island of Pitcairn to decide whether a sex crimes case involving nine men from the island should go to trial.

The magistrate presiding over the case, Gray Cameron, has ordered that no details about the defendants, their alleged victims or the charges be released.

But Pitcairn prosecutor Simon Moore said last year that he was bringing charges for the rape of girls as young as seven and 10, and of indecent assault against a girl as young as three.

Mr Cameron is expected to deliver a judgment on Friday. If the case does go to trial, it is likely to be held 5,000 kilometres (3,200 miles) away, in Auckland, New Zealand.

This is because many of the people involved in the trial now live in the city, and because Pitcairn is so remote and does not have the necessary infrastructure for a trial of its own.

The charges are the culmination of an inquiry by British and New Zealand police which began in early 2000 into allegations of sexual abuse on the island, home to just 45 people.

New Zealand trial

New Zealand has passed a law allowing it to host the trial and to allow for any prison sentences handed down to be served in a New Zealand prison.

Pitcairn islanders have warned that if the trial does go ahead, it could spell the end of their community.

Pitcairn has only a handful of adult males - the minimum, the islanders say, needed to man the boats which the island relies upon for supplies.

The island is mostly populated by descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the accompanying Polynesians, who landed on the island in 1790, a year after the mutiny.

Sex charges on 'Bounty' island
07 Apr 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Pitcairn 'threatened' by sex trial
07 Nov 02  |  Asia-Pacific

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