Asia

Rachelle Bergeron: Arrests after lawyer's murder shocks tiny island

Rachelle Bergeron

Police in the Micronesian state of Yap who are investigating the murder of a US lawyer that shocked the tiny island have made arrests.

Rachelle Bergeron, 33, was shot dead on 14 October outside her house.

Yap is part of the Federated States of Micronesia, with a population of only 12,000 and low rates of violent crime.

Ms Bergeron was a US-trained lawyer who specialised in fighting human trafficking, and was acting attorney general on Yap.

She had been working in the Federated States of Micronesia since 2015, and was due to stay for four years.

She was killed while returning home from walking her dog. The dog also died.

The New York Times reported that she lived on Yap with her husband, a German pilot who worked for a Christian missionary group.

Her mother told the paper she was planning to adopt a local girl who she found sleeping outside their house, with the family due to move back to the US on Christmas Day.

Ms Bergeron had previously worked in India, focusing on the trafficking of women and children, before she went to Micronesia.

After her murder, officials called investigators from the United States FBI to help with the investigation.

"Arrests have been made in the murder of acting Attorney General Rachelle Bergeron," Yap Governor Henry Falan said on Monday.

"The next stage in the investigation will be the court proceedings as the state moves toward the final stage of conviction. No names will be issued by the authorities at this time."

Micronesia consists of some 600 islands grouped into the four states of Yap, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Chuuk.

Occupying a very small land mass, the remote islands are scattered over an ocean expanse in the western Pacific five times the size of France.

Although independent, there is close co-operation with the United States.

Micronesia has a "Compact of Free Association" with the US under which Washington handles the states' defence in exchange for the right to set up military bases.

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