Admission contested
in bribery trial

A former investigator for the Honolulu Liquor Commission admitted to federal agents that he had accepted bribes from bar owners in exchange for overlooking liquor violations.

But Eduardo Mina, 73, asked the court to rule that his statements are not admissible at trial because he was not read his rights and did not give a statement voluntarily.

Federal prosecutors say Mina was not under arrest or in custody when federal agents questioned him in January 2002, so they were not required to read him his rights.

Mina is one of eight former liquor investigators later indicted in May 2002 for taking bribes from hostess bars and strip clubs between October 2000 to December 2001. Five investigators have since pleaded and have agreed to cooperate with authorities. Mina is one of three remaining defendants scheduled to go to trial in November in U.S. District Court.

FBI Special Agent Miles Yamane testified yesterday that he and another agent, Kathleen Campbell, went to Mina's Kamehameha IV Road apartment on Jan. 30, 2002, to ask him about his employer and allegations of corruption involving liquor investigators.

Mina agreed and willingly accompanied them to the Kalihi police substation. Before questioning Mina, Yamane said he specifically told Mina that he was not under arrest and was free to leave at any time.

Mina was cooperative, particularly after the agents played a tape-recorded conversation between Mina and supervisor David Lee discussing bribes, Yamane said. "Mr. Mina stated he had found Jesus Christ and realized what he was doing was wrong," he said.

Mina disputed Yamane's account, saying Yamane flashed his badge and ordered him to go with them. In the Philippines if someone shows their badge, you have no choice but to obey or get shot, Mina said. "I fear the badge."

He denied Yamane told him he was not under arrest or that he was free to leave.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra will rule on the issue next week.


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