Unique Trial Alternative Considered For Hawaii Telescope Protesters

HONOLULU (AP) — Instead of a trial, most of the people arrested in April for blocking construction of a giant mountaintop telescope will likely participate in a Hawaiian culture-based form of mediation.

Three defendants in the case filed a motion asking for hooponopono (ho-OH’-po-noh-po-noh) as an alternative to a trial. Hooponopono is traditionally used within families to work out differences, using prayer and discussion.

Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth said his office supports the motion. He met with a group of defendants Monday night to discuss how the unique process may be used in a criminal case that is rooted in protesters’ belief that they are protecting Mauna Kea, a site they consider sacred, from desecration.

A total of 31 people were arrested in April when protesters blocked workers from accessing the construction site near the summit of Mauna Kea for the planned $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope. Roth’s office later moved to dismiss trespassing charges for 10 defendants.

Roth said hooponopono is being considered only for the remaining 21 people charged with obstructing. A few of them have told prosecutors they prefer to proceed with a trial, he said. It’s not being considered for 12 people who are charged in a second round of arrests last month.

“It may not be pure hooponopono. It may be something culturally based between hooponopono and mediation,” Roth said Tuesday. “We’re open. We would not be a party to it. We’re trying to facilitate how this would happen.”

In doing that, Roth has asked the defendants to come back to his office in about two weeks with parameters for the process. Roth said he envisions other participants to be representatives from the governor’s office, the state attorney general, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, the nonprofit company building the telescope —> Read More