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Pang Arraignment Set But Suspect In Hiding

An arraignment hearing has been set for Monday for Martin Pang, a fugitive charged with four counts of murder in the Jan. 5 arson that destroyed his parents’ business and killed four Seattle firefighters.

Pang, 39, formerly of Seattle and the Los Angeles area, is believed to be hiding in Brazil. If he isn’t in custody and returned to Seattle by Monday, the arraignment date may be postponed, said King County senior deputy prosecutor Marilyn Brenneman.

Pang must be in custody before he can stand trial.

The state Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that a person cannot be tried in absentia unless the individual flees after the trial begins. Pang left Seattle two months ago, in the early days of the investigation.

An arraignment is a court hearing in which a defendant hears the charges against him and can enter a plea. Prosecutors say they will seek $5 million bail for Pang, who is charged with four counts of first-degree murder.

Pang’s attorney, John Henry Browne, said he would not participate in an arraignment unless his client were present. Browne said he has been urging Pang to return to Seattle.

Police and federal authorities found out Feb. 27 from Pang’s attorney that Pang was in Brazil. They said Tuesday they were too busy with other aspects of the case to contact the Brazilian consulate or airlines at that time.