A man accused of trafficking methamphetamine, Mr. Aiken Uehara, has been placed in Koror Jail awaiting his trial in March, after the Palau Supreme Court denied a motion to dismiss his charges.
Mr. Uehara, who is facing criminal charges with one count of Trafficking a Controlled Substance as well as Possession of More Than One Gram of a Controlled Substance, is scheduled for trial on March 22, 2021.
Mr. Uehara was first arrested for possession and trafficking of methamphetamine in April of last year, but he posted $50 thousand cash bail on the day of his arrest, allowing him to walk free pending trial, provided that he abide by the laws of Palau.
However, his bail was revoked in January 2021, following two car crashes, one in September and one in December of last year.
On September 13, Mr. Uehara was involved in a car crash off of the Compact Road in Ngchesar, along with his wife and two other passengers. Responding officers identified Mr. Uehara as the driver, and reported that they could smell a strong odor of alcohol on Mr. Uehara’s breath, after which Mr. Uehara was charged with Reckless Driving. According to a motion filed by the Republic to revoke bail, Mr. Uehara later “perjured himself” by lying on the stand that he was not the driver of the vehicle during his hearing.
“Not only did Mr. Uehara lie about who was driving that night, he lied about who owned the car and whether he had spoken to law enforcement about the accident. He admitted the two latter facts on the stand under cross-examination,” the motion states.
Mr. Uehara was involved in a second car crash on December 26, 2020, in front of the MOE intersection. According to another motion to revoke bail filed by the Republic, CCTV footage showed Mr. Uehara and another individual identified as Parbica Iyebul Rengulbai fleeing the scene. The abandoned vehicle, which was identified as belonging to Mr. Uehara, was found to contain 13.97 grams of a substance which field-tested positive for meth.
Presiding Justice Kathleen Salii signed an order revoking Mr. Uehara’s bail on January 11, for “failing to comply with conditions of release for failing to obey the laws of the Republic of Palau”. Following the order, the accused trafficker was imprisoned in Koror Jail for the first time since his initial arrest, pending his trial next month.
The Court later denied a motion filed by Mr. Uehara’s legal counsel to dismiss the charges on the grounds that “the Plaintiff Republic of Palau has no standing to prosecute this case”. The motion cited a recent case, Yobech v. Republic of Palau, 2020, to demonstrate that “in criminal cases, the Republic of Palau is not a real party of interest”. However, Presiding Justice Salii denied the motion, ruling that “in criminal prosecution, it is only the national government, the Republic, that prosecutes the case”, and asserted that “the Defendant has been charged with the most serious of felony offenses”.
Mr. Uehara is pleading not guilty to his charges.
Trafficking a Controlled Substance carries a prison sentence of not less than 25 years, while Possession of More Than One Gram of a Controlled Substance carries a sentence of not less than 15 years.
This coincides with the imprisonment of Mr. Burton Wenty, who is also charged with possession of large quantities of methamphetamine and who has also been committed to Koror Jail this month for the first time since his arrest in September 2019, after failing to abide by the conditions of his bail. Mr. Wenty’s court date is set for May 2021.

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