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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 September, 2004, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
Pitcairn trial officials arrive
Court officials have begun to arrive on the Pacific island of Pitcairn ahead of a controversial sex abuse trial.

Seven men on the island face a total of 96 charges of sex abuse, some involving minors, dating back more than 40 years.

Their trial, which will take place under British law, is due to begin next Monday and to last about six weeks.

Some on the island, a British territory whose population totals just 47, have warned the trial threatens the community's survival.

The island, which has been inhabited since 1790 by descendants of the infamous Bounty mutiny, is only accessible by boat.

The first boatload of legal officials, including the three trial judges from New Zealand, arrived on Thursday.

Lawyers and journalists are expected to arrive later this week.

The trial had been due to start on Thursday, but a spokesman for Britain's High Commission in New Zealand, Bryan Nicolson, said it had been delayed for logistical reasons.

The seven men charged with abuse are said to have had sex with girls under the age of 16, which is forbidden under British law.

Eighteen people have made allegations dating from six to 45 years ago.

The defendants will be tried under British law, after a court ruled earlier this year that the United Kingdom still had sovereignty over the isolated community.


SEE ALSO:
A rock and a hard place
08 Sep 04  |  Magazine
Guns to be handed in on Pitcairn
11 Aug 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Pacific paradise under threat
10 Apr 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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