HONOLULU (KHNL) - More than a dozen members of a Hawaiian sovereignty group accused of trespassing during a take-over at Iolani Palace are free of criminal charges...for now.
They call themselves the king and queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii Nation, and they're all smiles after hearing there aren't any charges filed against 15 members accused of trespassing at Iolani Palace.
"The state and the plaintiff do not have ownership or title or deed to the property," Vanessa Fimbres, king's counsel, said. "Therefore, they can not bring forth evidence. They have no authority over any of us."
About two dozen people were arrested after the sovereignty group briefly took control of the Palace grounds August 15th. They say they have documents showing their king, Akahi Nui, owns the historic landmark.
The 15 accused of trespassing, a petty misdemeanor, appear at Honolulu District Court, and are told they're free to go.
"We had his permission to go in and secure the Palace because it's his. It's not the state's," Norman Abihai, defendant, said. "So, you know, the charges has been all dropped. I'm happy."
But city prosecutors say not so fast.
"As with all cases that the prosecutor's office reviews, we will thoroughly and completely review all of the evidence before we file formal charges," Renee Sonobe Hong, deputy prosecutor, said. "And we will file charges in this case."
Any doubts about jurisdiction?
"Absolutely not," Sonobe Hong said.
"The Palace is the royal family's home," Fimbres said. "And the royal family will be returning to the Palace."