Kookesh subsistence trial delayed

Date to be determined in court hearing today

Posted: Thursday, October 01, 2009

The trial of Sen. Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, and three co-defendants over subsistence fishing violations will not take place on Monday as previously scheduled.

The defendants' lawyer filed a motion to postpone the trial and the state is not objecting because District Attorney Doug Gardner will be out of town for a legal conference. A hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. today to determine a new trial date.

The trial is likely to be rescheduled to January, Sitka Superior Court Judge David George said during a telephone hearing on Wednesday.

Kookesh, Scott Hunter, Stanley Johnson and Rocky Estrada, Sr. were found in possession of 148 sockeye salmon on July 12, in Kanalku Bay near Angoon. Each of the men had a valid subsistence permit allowing them to take a total of 75 sockeye collectively. The additional 73 salmon found in their possession were donated to the Angoon Senior Center.

Kookesh said it has been common practice for years in Angoon to fish other people's subsistence permits, according to court documents. He said many Alaska Native organizations have gotten on board in support of the case to help align the state constitution with federal law governing subsistence on federal land.

The most Kookesh and the three co-defendants can face is a $500 fine each.

Kookesh was elected as the Alaska Senate in 2004 to represent District C. Prior to that he served in the Alaska House of Representatives since 1996. Kookesh is also a board member of Sealaska Corp. and serves as co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives.

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