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04-Jan-2018 11:19

Verdicts were delivered on 24 October 2004, with all but one of the defendants convicted on at least some of the charges they were facing.Those found guilty were sentenced on 29 October 2004.The trial was punctuated by legal challenges from island residents, who denied the island's colonial status, and with it the United Kingdom's judicial authority.Defence lawyers for the seven accused men claimed that British sovereignty over the islands was unconstitutional: HMS Bounty mutineers, from whom almost all of the current island population is descended (together with Polynesians), had effectively renounced their British citizenship by committing a capital offence in the burning of the Bounty in 1790, they said.In 1999 Gail Cox, a police officer from Kent, UK, served on a temporary assignment on Pitcairn, and began uncovering allegations of sexual abuse.When a 15-year-old girl decided to press rape charges in 1999, criminal proceedings (code-named "Operation Unique") were set in motion.If the Privy Council had ruled in favour of the islanders (which constitutional experts considered unlikely), the trial and its conclusions would have been deemed null and void.

Over the following two years, police officers in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom interviewed every woman who had lived on Pitcairn in the past 20 years, as well as all of the accused men.

In a symbolic rejection of British rule, islanders still celebrated this act annually by burning an effigy of the Bounty, according to Paul Dacre, the Pitcairn public defender.



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