Fitial wants to come back, asks court to quash warrant


Former Governor Benigno R. Fitial wants to return to the CNMI from the Philippines to face the criminal charges filed against him as he has no desire to become a fugitive.

Through attorney Stephen Nutting as his counsel, Fitial filed a declaration executed in Taguig, Global City, Philippines dated Feb. 27, 2014.
Fitial said near the end of 2013, his health had improved to the point where it appeared that he was able to travel and that he was excited to return to his home in Saipan.
“Unfortunately, on Oct. 27, 2013, Josie’s (his wife) father suffered a very serious stroke and was not expected to survive. Fortunately, his health improved, but his ability to care for himself was severely compromised. Understandably, Josie then became one of his primary caregivers,” Fitial said.
Nutting attached the affidavit in support of Fitial’s motion filed on Monday requesting the Superior Court to quash the arrest warrant that Superior Court Associate Judge David Wiseman issued against him and set initial appearance hearing for his voluntary appearance.
Wiseman scheduled a motion hearing on March 17, 2014 at 9:30am. He ordered Nutting and the government’s counsel to appear at the hearing.
Nutting said contrary to what some may like to believe, Fitial’s absence from the Commonwealth has not been because of any desire to avoid addressing the criminal charges that are pending or have been threatened against him.
“His return to his home in the CNMI has simply been delayed by
extraordinary and exceptional circumstances which were well beyond his control,” Nutting said.
The Office of the Public Auditor filed seven criminal charges against Fitial for his role in shielding former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham from being served with penal summons in August 2012.
OPA charged Fitial with conspiracy to commit theft of services, conspiracy to commit obstructing justice: interference with service of process, conspiracy to commit obstructing justice: interference with law enforcement officer or witness, theft of services, misconduct in public office, obstructing justice: interference with law enforcement officer or witness, and obstructing of justice: interference with service of process.
More details to follow.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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