Coco Palms dispute heats up

Bethany Freudenthal / The Garden Island

Kamu Hepa testifies to the court in Hawaiian during a land dispute civil trial Friday.

LIHUE — In a tense courtroom Friday, Judge Michael Soong heard arguments in a contested court case between a developer who claims ownership of the famed Coco Palms Resort in Wailua, and a group of Native Hawaiians who say they have historical and genealogical rights to the land they’ve been occupying for nearly a year.