Peace activists returning to court
Peace activists returning to court to reclaim costs of collapsed Weapons Expo prosecution
Peace Action Wellington
Tuesday 21st March 2017, peace activists will be returning to court aiming to recover costs for the Crown’s recent failed prosecution against them. Fifteen peace activists who were arrested at the 2015 New Zealand Defence Industry Association (NZDIA) Weapons Expo had their charges dismissed or were found not guilty in February this year. During the trial which lasted a week, the Crown’s case crumbled and resulted in zero convictions. Eleven of the peaceful protesters, against whom no evidence was found, are seeking to reclaim costs associated with the failed charges brought against them.
An application has been submitted to Judge Ian Mills for costs to be returned to the peace activists who had been wrongly charged with trespass and obstruction. The application details the many missteps in the failed case against them. All of the activists steadfastly maintained their innocence. “Some of us were offered diversion,” says Emma Cullen of Peace Action Wellington, whose charges were dropped “But we chose to fight them instead because we knew we were innocent! This case hung over us for over a year and a half but completely collapsed in the courtroom.”
Many of the activists felt the Police continued the prosecution as a deterrent to peaceful protest, despite the low chances of conviction, the minor charges and the lack of public interest. “The process here has been really used as a punishment which is unacceptable and a huge waste of our time and taxpayer’s money. We have the right to protest and we’ll continue to take action against the annual Weapons Expo. We know the real criminals were the arms dealers inside that building, not those of us peacefully standing outside getting arrested” continued Cullen.
The activists have also filed a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCA) regarding police behaviour, arbitrary arrest and detention regarding this protest. The ruling of the IPCA awaits the outcome of these proceedings.