Trial begins for sovereignty group leader accused of breaking into Iolani Palace - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Trial begins for sovereignty group leader accused of breaking into Iolani Palace

James Akahi James Akahi
Henry Nobriga Henry Nobriga
David Sereno David Sereno
Prosecutors say Akahi and his followers broke into Iolani Palace in August 2008 Prosecutors say Akahi and his followers broke into Iolani Palace in August 2008

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Trial got underway Wednesday for the leader of a Hawaiian sovereignty group accused of breaking into Iolani Palace last year.

State prosecutors admit there was confusion among the law enforcement agencies that responded that night.

James Akahi smiles as jurors hear about the confusion on the part of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the state Attorney General's office, state sheriffs and Honolulu police, after Akahi's Kingdom of Hawaii Nation briefly took control of the Iolani Palace grounds last August.

"How would you describe the level of coordination between the four law enforcement agencies that night?" Mark Miyahira, deputy attorney general, asked.

"Chaotic," Henry Nobriga, attorney general's investigator, responded.

State prosecutors say Akahi and his followers chained up the perimeter gates and broke into the palace through the front door.

But the defendant claims he has documents showing he owns the historic landmark.

"He was saying that he had a right to be there, he was the next heir to the throne, and that he just wanted to go in there and chain himself to the throne, but they got lost," Nobriga said.

Soon, Nobriga is on the hot seat. He says he saw a knapsack with chains in it at the front entrance, but didn't think anything of it. He says he went to look for it about 20 minutes later and it was gone.

"Were you able to recover the knapsack?" Miyahira asked.

"No," Nobriga replied.

"Did you write every detail that you observed in the report?" Miyahira later asked.

"You know, I may have omitted certain things as to like not finding the bag," Nobriga replied.

The defense suggests there wasn't a knapsack, and that Akahi never intended to chain himself to the throne.

"Two days before you guys hear evidence, he suddenly sees chains," David Sereno, defense attorney, told the jury. "The only intent Mr. Akahi had was to sit on the throne. He had nothing but respect for the Palace."

Akahi is charged with second-degree burglary. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

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