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Tears As Friends Locked Up & Sent To Auckland

Tears As Friends Locked Up & Sent To Auckland


By Julie Webb-Pullman

Wellington District Court was today the scene of outrage, incredulity and tears, when four peace activists were again denied bail, and remanded by Judge Bruce Davidson in custody for transfer to appear for a further hearing in the Auckland District Court 1st and 2nd November. Name suppression continues.

Judge Davidson also said he expected in normal course of events for another bail application to be heard within a month for the accused. This is the only fact concerning his decision that is allowed to be reported.

While Scoop is unable to report on the content of submissions it would be fair observe that that counsel for the accused took considerable exception to much of the reasoning given by the crown for continued detention.

It is not known at this stage whether the bail decision will be appealed.

A crowd of over a hundred had arrived by 10.30am this morning hoping for one of the 40 or so seats in the public gallery. Those early enough to get one were soon thrown out, as the judge ordered the court cleared for submissions by counsel.

Unlike Tame Iti’s whanau, who were permitted to hug and greet him at his bail hearing, family members of the Wellington accused were banished along with everyone else, with no opportunity to give personal support.

Undeterred, they and the accused’ friends, supporters and other concerned members of the public maintained a vigil both outside the courtroom, and the Court building.

By lunchtime it was clear that this was going to be an all-day affair, giving many cause for hope. The mood was still upbeat, with many increasingly hopeful that basic principles of justice would prevail, that people with no previous convictions or histories of breaches of court orders would be remanded at large, as the law directs.

However, several remained skeptical of such an outcome, saying the scope of the surveillance and detention operation called “Operation 8” has been so surreal that it was no longer possible to apply normal analysis.

When the court reconvened at 2pm so did family members and supporters, but they were again denied admission, and continued their vigil outside. Spirits rose shortly after 3pm, when the judge retired to consider his decision, announcing he would hand it down at 4.15pm.

Most remained, hopeful of at least being permitted to hear the decision, if not celebrate their release on remand. One of the lawyers even asked for this at the outset. There appeared to be an expectation – among the lawyers - that at least some of the accused would be granted bail.

A little after 4.30pm it was clear there was to be no cause for celebration – the Judge announced to media alone that he would permit publication of the decision only (no reasons or submissions or indeed anything at all except the fact of a bail hearing and of it failing).

He remanded all defendants in custody and ordered their transfer to Auckland District Court for a hearing on 1 November, without prejudice and subject to appeal and review.

Family and friends were devastated, and supporters and members of the public stunned and outraged.

One activist said having worked with them in some of the same movements, she is really shocked, and fears that it could happen to any of them. “When everyone’s getting angry and shouting and wanting to break things, they [the defendants] were planting community gardens.”

Audio clips of responses from supporters will be added to this article shortly.

*************

Julie Webb-Pullman is a Wellington based writer and journalist.

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