Pretrial hearing set Tuesday in Makah Tribal Court for accused whalers

NEAH BAY — A pretrial hearing is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday in Makah Tribal Court for the five men who killed a gray whale Sept. 8 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, said John Arum, tribal attorney.

Meanwhile, a lawyer for one of the men has challenged his client’s federal indictment, claiming it violates his freedom of religion.

Attorney Jack Fiander of Yakima also has moved to dismiss the charges because, he claims, the whale was hunted in Makah tribal waters and thus outside the jurisdiction of U.S. District Court.

The federal trial is set to start April 8 in Tacoma.

There are no such cultural or jurisdictional questions for Tuesday’s hearing in Neah Bay.

The Makah Tribal Council on the day after the whale died promised to prosecute Wayne Johnson, Andy Noel, Frankie Gonzales, Theron Parker and William Secor Sr., all Makah of Neah Bay.

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