HONOLULU – Hawaii County's top prosecutor said Friday he will dismiss charges against about 10 of the 31 protesters who were arrested while blocking construction of a giant telescope on a mountain held sacred by Native Hawaiians.
Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth told The Associated Press he will drop the cases against those charged with trespassing, though his office might decide to re-file them later.
The remaining people arrested last month were charged with obstruction of government operations.
Opposition has been mounting against the Thirty Meter Telescope planned near the summit of Mauna Kea. The $1.4 billion project would be one of the world's largest telescopes.
Roth declined to say why he's moving to drop some cases, but he noted the charges warrant further investigation.
Construction on the project has been halted since last month amid protests and arrests of opponents blocking crews from accessing the site.
Gov. David Ige has said it's up to the nonprofit telescope company to determine when work will start again. "And we will support and enforce their right to do so," he said.
Telescope officials haven't said when construction will resume.
Earlier this week, the governor promised major changes in stewardship of Mauna Kea.
He listed 10 actions he has asked the University of Hawaii, which leases the land, to take. They include beginning to decommission some of the 13 telescopes already on the mountain.
Ige also urged the university to significantly limit noncultural access to the mountain, and to legally commit that this is the last area of the mountain where a telescope will be considered.