By Debra Barayuga
The Nation of Hawaii will press criminal charges against those who violate their laws and police who arrest their members, vows the sovereignty group's leader, Dennis "Bumpy Kanahele.
"This is not a game - I'm head of this nation," he said. "Justice gotta be served."
A subdued Kanahele and Gordon Kaaihue greeted supporters with hugs and handshakes outside a Honolulu District Court room yesterday after they were released following their court hearing.
Both faced contempt-of-court charges for failure to appear in court for traffic violations that date back to 1992.
About 50 supporters rose in the courtroom when Kanahele and Kaaihue were ushered in.
Duke Sabedong, the nation's minister of justice, and Maltbie Napoleon, the group's attorney general who represented the two at yesterday's hearing, declined to enter a plea, saying the court had no jurisdiction over the Nation.
District Judge Colette Garibaldi entered not-guilty pleas for Kanahele and Kaaihue, and released them on their own recognizance pending a Sept. 15 court date.
Bail was waived because the two appeared despite their refusal to recognize the court's proceedings, Sabedong said.
The court is expected to take up the matter of jurisdiction at the trial, Garibaldi said.
Kanahele and Kaaihue, a colonel with the Hawaii Peaceforce - the Nation's law enforcement arm - spent the night in the Honolulu Police Department's Alapai cell-block after declining to post bail.
Posting bail - $500 for Kanahele and $300 for Kaaihue - was tantamount to paying ransom, Sabedong said.
Although the Nation of Hawaii does not recognize U.S. authority, their constitution allows working with the state and federal government toward sovereignty, Kanahele said.
Bail was posted, however, for Kanahele's son, Westin, who was booked for allegedly interfering with Kaaihue's arrest. He was released on $100 bail and is to appear in District Court on that charge Wednesday.
Kanahele was served with an outstanding warrant Tuesday after he and several of the nation's peace officers showed up at the Honolulu Police Department's main station.
Kanahele cited the "apology bill" signed by President Clinton in 1993 acknowledging the U.S. role in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy a century ago as grounds for the Nation's claim.
"They admitted to the crime, now they gotta pay," he said.
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