By Mark Matsunaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
The trial of Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele began yesterday in a case that his attorney calls an "overreaction ... to the most outspoken and assertive direct-action Hawaiian sovereignty advocate in Hawaii today."
Kanahele, leader of the self-proclaimed Nation of Hawaii, is on trial in federal District Court on a charge of harboring a federal tax fugitive and interfering with two attempts to arrest that fugitive, Nathan K. Brown, early last year.
Kanahele aide Gordon Kaaihue, head of the nation's "peace force," is a co-defendant on one interfering charge.
In opening statements yesterday, Kanahele's attorney, Hayden Aluli, suggested that, rather than criminal conduct, the case "is really about certain state and federal agents' perception of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement."
But Judge Helen Gillmor indicated she won't allow the defense to hold a "mini-trial" of what Kanahele and his followers consider to be the illegal occupation of Hawaii by the federal and state governments.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Les Osborne said he intends to call six witnesses to prove that Kanahele and Kaaihue interfered with a Honolulu police officer's attempt to arrest Brown on Jan. 27, 1994, and Kanahele's obstruction of two U.S. marshals. They were trying to arrest Brown at Kanahele's Waimanalo home on March 16, 1994.
The trial is expected to take a week or more.
The panel appears to be ethnically mixed. Kaaihue's attorney, Sid Quintal, estimated one-third or half of them are part-Hawaiian.
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