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Trouble in paradise Switzerland pulled into Hawaii sovereignty battle

Statue of the Hawaiian king Kamehameha with the Mauna Kea volcano in the background


A Swiss citizen residing in Hawaii has filed a petition with the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office against the US Pacific island state. He is demanding that all taxes levied on him by the state be regarded as theft.

The Swiss man, who wishes to remain anonymous, wants the Swiss government to try the Hawaiian state for the criminal offense of “pillaging” under a complex legal technicality - the passive personality jurisdiction - that allows countries, in certain cases, to try a foreign national for offenses committed abroad that affect its own citizens.

The Swiss petitioner is represented by David Keanu Sai, a well-known leader of Hawaiian Kingdom, a self-proclaimed “sovereign and independent state” which refuses to recognise US sovereignty over Hawaii.

According to the petition dated January 20, the Swiss citizen claims to have “suffered grave harm” and is demanding the Swiss authorities investigate “the private organization called the State of Hawaii” for the “war crime of pillaging under the guise of taxation”.

Besides taxes, the petitioner also blames the Hawaiian state for rendering his Hawaiian property  valueless, as he considers the authority issuing the title deeds to be illegal.

Swiss tangle

This is not the first attempt by the Hawaiian Kingdom group to involve the Swiss legal system in their sovereignty battle. A Hawaiian citizen filed a petition with  the Swiss authorities in December 2014 against Joe Ackermann, former chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank. The Hawaiian man had refused to pay his mortgage to the bank, which he deemed illegal. The bank ordered the property to be foreclosed and the man was subsequently arrested.

His petition to the Swiss authorities alleges that “war crimes have been committed against himself by Deutsche Bank for the pillaging of his home, whose Chief Executive Officer at the time was a Swiss citizen and resident of Zurich”.

The Swiss authorities admit that this petition is currently making the rounds of the Swiss legal system.

“Based on the results of a preliminary investigation, the case was dismissed in February,” Andre Marty, spokesperson for Attorney General’s Office, told “This was challenged in the court of appeals and the appeal is currently pending in the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona.”

The Hawaiian Kingdom group has also apparently explored other avenues to obtain Swiss legitimacy for its cause. It alleges that it met with the Swiss authorities in March 2014 to convince Switzerland to act as a protecting powerexternal link for the Hawaiian Kingdom. Switzerland serves as a protecting power by mediating between countries whose diplomatic relations have ceased, like between the US and Cuba.

A foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed to that "it had received a Swiss national on March 26, 2014 who raised questions concerning Hawaii". 

By involving a Swiss citizen in its latest petition, the Hawaiian Kingdom group seeks to ensure that the petition carries as much legal weight as possible in the eyes of the Swiss authorities. 

Swiss position

"Switzerland is not in the process of negotiating a protecting power mandate," a foreign ministry spokesperson told "In accordance with international law, Switzerland considers the state of Hawaii to be a part of the United States."

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