Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Judge rejects camper’s
Hawaiian defense

By Eloise Aguiar


A Hawaiian woman who has lived with her family on Mokuleia Beach Park for two years has been found guilty of camping there without a permit.

Marie Beltran contended that the state and city have no jurisdiction over her because she is a citizen of the Hawaiian kingdom.

But Waialua District Judge Russell Blair yesterday denied a motion to dismiss charges based on that contention, said Jim Fulton, spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

Following a trial, Blair found Beltran guilty of two counts of camping without a license, and also found her guilty of violating a law which prohibits animals on the beach, Fulton said.

Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20. The petty misdemeanors each carry maximum fines of $500 and 30 days in jail.

Beltran, who returned to the beach after the trial, said she expected the verdict but will continue to fight for her right to live on the beach.

"I don't see this as a setback," Beltran said. "It's just another beginning."

Beltran, her husband John Keawemauhili, and 15 family members have camped at various locations in Mokuleia for seven years. In 1997, the state evicted them from a camp site on the shoulder of Farrington Highway, and they moved to Mokuleia Beach Park.

They claim immunity from state and city laws because they are citizens of the Hawaiian kingdom, she said. Beltran said she believes the state is an illegitimate entity because the United States never lawfully acquired the Hawaiian kingdom.

A federal judge next month is expected to decide if she is subject to state and city laws.

Fulton said if Beltran continues to camp on the beach, police will have to cite her again, although adding his office won't seek an eviction.

"What they're looking for is some judge to affirm their native Hawaiian rights," Fulton said. "No judge is going to affirm that."

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