By Star-Bulletin Staff

Wednesday, July 9, 1997

Coast Guard closing in
on driftnetting vessel

In the predawn hours of Japanese waters today, the Coast Guard was preparing to catch a fishing vessel it had been following for nearly two weeks for suspicion of illegal driftnet fishing.

The 180-foot Coast Guard cutter Basswood from Guam has been following the fishing vessel, Cao Yu, since July 1.

The 140-foot Cao Yu was first spotted June 26 northwest of Midway Island by the Canadian Air Force.

Since that time, a U.S. Navy P-3 aircraft and a Coast Guard C-130 from Barbers Point have taken turns tracking the vessel, which was moving 7 mph today near the southern island of Kyushu.

The Coast Guard Basswood was awaiting help from a larger, speedier ship called in from California, the cutter Chase.

Coast Guard Lt. Greg Fondran said the Chase met up with the Basswood in today's early morning hours.

He said the two ships were awaiting daylight to move in on the fishing vessel. The Coast Guard expected to intercept the ship before noon, Hawaii time.

The fishing vessel is suspected of large-scale driftnet fishing, illegal in international waters under a United Nations ban.

The Coast Guard said large-scale driftnet fishing is outlawed in many countries because it catches marine life indiscriminately, snaring endangered species and marine mammals like dolphins.

Since the Coast Guard caught up with Cao Yu, the fishing ship has repeatedly denied requests made by the Coast Guard to come aboard.

The fishing ship's master said he is headed to a port at Zhoushan Dao Island in China.

The vessel claimed to be home-ported in China, but the Coast Guard said Chinese authorities have refuted the claim.

Since the vessel is considered a "stateless" ship, the Coast Guard has the authority to board it, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Sarah Foster-Snell.

Educator steps down
after flap over test

Education officials and Kaaawa Elementary principal Melanie Gibb, who admitted to doctoring a third-grader's standardized test last year, decided together that Gibb would step down from her position.

In a written statement released today, Windward District Superintendent Ruby Hiraishi said she and Gibb "determined that new leadership would be in the best interest of the school." Gibb could not be reached for comment.

Gibb, principal at Kaaawa since December 1989, will be reassigned to another position in the Department of Education.

Gibb last October admitted to having a teacher fill in the child's incomplete test in an attempt to make sure all the tests submitted were complete. Gibb at the time accepted responsibility, saying it was a bad decision.

This is not the first time a mutual decision has been made to reassign a principal to another position, said Greg Knudsen, DOE spokesman.

The incident at Kaaawa was more visible because concerned parents spoke out against Gibb's actions and what seemed like inaction on the part of the Department of Education.

Suzuki family says goodbye
to Diane, missing for 12 years

Masaharu Suzuki will always leave the back-porch light on at his Halawa Heights home, even though he knows now that the youngest of his five daughters will never return.

"Twelve years is a long time and I know that we not going to find her," Suzuki said.

"I keep the light on out of habit. It still hurts when I think of her, but we have to go on now."

Diane Suzuki's family held a private service Sunday at Aiea Taiheiji Soto Mission on the 12th anniversary of her disappearance to officially say goodbye to her.

The Rev. Toshimichi Hasegawa told about 175 people who attended the service that it was time to recognize and accept Diane's short life and move on, however difficult it may be.

The family received an ihai, a wooden memorial tablet with Diane's name written on it in Japanese, to place on their shrine at home.

Kane, book firm reps
to discuss differences

Representatives of Baker & Taylor are expected to meet Fridaywith state librarian Bart Kane to try to settle differences over a troubled book-buying contract.

The state has agreed to withhold sending the mainland book buyer a letter completed last week dissolving the contract until the parties have had a chance to talk.

"We will be discussing with them the substance of the disputes under the contract and a possible settlement that would include termination of the contract," deputy attorney general John Dellera.

Yesterday, Kane was to have met with library administrators to discuss what options are available to take over selection and purchase of books for Hawaii's libraries once the contract is dissolved.

Kane is expected to present the plan and implementation costs to library employees and their union representatives later this week for review and input.

Fired Kauai police officer
can return to the force

LIHUE -- An arbitrator has ordered the Kauai Police Department to reinstate Melvin Rapozo, who was supervising officers when an exotic dancer was sexually fondled and photographed at the Lihue Police Station on Sept. 16, 1995.

Oahu arbitrator Andrew Winer, however, demoted Rapozo from a sergeant to an officer and suspended him without pay for 393 days, the amount of time he has already been off work.

Under the ruling, which was revealed yesterday by sources within the county, Rapozo can return to the force immediately.

Police Chief George Freitas fired Rapozo and officers Todd Tanaka and Randall Machado in March 1996 for their roles in the incident. Two other officers implicated by exotic dancer Monica Alves resigned.

The events took place in Rapozo's office while he was on duty as watch sergeant. Alves and other dancers were brought to the station on prostitution charges following an undercover sting of an exotic dance company. Alves was never tried on those charges and later won a $250,000 out-of-court settlement from the county of her police misconduct complaint.

See expanded coverage in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
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By Star-Bulletin staff

Motorcyclist critical
after hitting a tree

A 21-year-old motorcyclist remains in critical condition this morning following a crash on the North Shore.

Police said two motorcycles were chasing a car on Haleiwa Beach Road, 300 feet past Nalimu Street, when just after midnight one of the motorcyclists lost control of his bike and slammed into a tree.

Witnesses told police they saw a truck arrive at the crash scene, in front of Alii Beach Park, and someone picked up the motorcycle and left, leaving the victim there.

Police said the motorcyclist suffered head injuries and was flown to Queen's Hospital.

Police said they could not find a helmet at the scene.

Speed seems to be a factor in the crash, police said.

Man hurled through
window of YMCA

Police arrested a 26-year-old man for throwing a man out the window of a YMCA.

Police said the victim and the suspect both lived at the YMCA on Atkinson Drive.

Police said the two men had been arguing over the television when the victim called the suspect a derogatory racial name.

The suspect threw the victim through a Plexiglas window. The glass cut a large gash across the victim's forehead, police said.

The victim is being treated at Queen's Hospital. The suspect was released pending further investigation, police said.

Fire bomb found
at Hilo center

HILO -- Police are asking for the public's help in solving the case of a fire bomb left at a Hilo shopping center Monday.

The bomb failed to go off, but authorities evacuated the shopping center for about two hours.

The first notice of a problem was an 8:30 a.m. call to the Fire Department from an employee of Bullseye Family Fun in the Puainako Town Center. The employee, who had just arrived, said he smelled something like kerosene.

Police and fire personnel found an "undetermined type of device" and ordered the shopping center evacuated at 8:52 a.m., police said.

Authorities determined that the device, which had malfunctioned, was connected to a flammable material. The Family Fun center had been burglarized in order for the fire bomb to be placed, police said.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Detective Paul Ferreira at 961-2378 or CrimeStoppers at 961-8300.

Other Police/Fire headlines
in today’s Star-Bulletin:

  • Suspects sought in Big Isle theft
  • Fire destroys small structure
  • Police issue warning of counterfeit bills

See expanded coverage in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
See our [Info] section for subscription information.

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