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Days Three and Four of the Operation 8 Trial

Days Three and Four of the Operation 8 Trial
by Annemarie Thorby


Day Three

On Wednesday the cross-examination by the defence of Detective Inspector Jago took place, followed by three other police officers giving evidence.

The previous day Jago had given evidence that he was the officer responsible for placing cameras in te Urewera during 2006 and 2007 as part of Operation 8.

He made approximately 25 trips to the area over that time.

One of the first questions asked by Tame Iti's lawyer, Russell Fairbrother, was from which direction Jago had approached a wharenui and wharekai in the hills by Ruatoki.

Jago responded that he could not answer that question as it 'could compromise operational methods and numbers involved.'

He also declined to say how many police were involved in planting the cameras.

Justice Hansen, said he would not allow the witness to refuse to answer questions and the jury was asked to leave the court room while a legal argument took place.

When the jury returned, Jago answered the question and confirmed that he approached the two buildings from the Waimana area.

Mr Fairbrother also asked Jago if he was aware of the Confiscation Line, and if he knew what it meant.

He also gave Jago a copy of Judith Binny's book, 'Encircled Land', opened to a map of the Confiscation Line.

Jago said the police made 'no conscious decision' to put the camera on the Confiscation Line and that he had not familiarised himself with the history of Tuhoe during the Operation.

Mr Fairbrother also asked if Jago was aware that the Air Training Corps and the Territorials carried out military training manoeuvres with guns.

He then asked if there was any prospect that the ATC would go to war.

Jago said that he 'would not expect school children to go to war.'

Mr Fairbrother also asked Jago if he knew many employment opportunities around the Ruatoki area.

Jago said he thought work was available in farming and forestry. When asked if he had seen much employment during his visits around the area, he said 'he had not'.

In answer to Mr Fairbrother, he also said he believed Ruatoki was not isolated or remote.

Emily Bailey's lawyer, Val Nesbit, asked Jago about the actual wharenui and wharekai he had mentioned whilst giving evidence. He asked Jago if the buildings looked well-used, Jago confirmed that they did.

There were questions about an oven found by police that they alleged had on one side the outline of a human body painted on it, with a picture of a rabbit on another side. It is alleged that Molotov cocktails had been thrown at the oven.

Detective Myles Horsnell was the next officer to take the stand.

He gave evidence that he had followed Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara around Auckland and he also confirmed that a number of SMS texts had been sent between Tame Iti and Tuhoe Lambert (the defendant who died last year).

Only one defence lawyer, Russell Fairbrother, cross-examined Horsnell and that was to ask Horsnell how he knew that Tame Iti had been one of the texters.

Horsnell responded that it had been information passed onto him by other members of Operation 8.

The middle of the afternoon was taken up with evidence from two other police officers, both members of the Special Tactics Group (STG) and both had name suppression. They talked extensively about the noise of gun shots they had heard whilst placing motion detector cameras and sensors in the bush near the Paekoa track area in November 2006 and January 2007.

The day concluded with approximately 18 minutes worth of video evidence taken in January 2007. It covered several days and showed people moving through the bush and at one stage eating lunch.


Day Four – Adjourned Early

The trial of the four remaining people standing trial as a result of police 'Operation 8' was adjourned early on Thursday.

One of the accused, Urs Signer, is sick and a medical certificate was presented to the court.

The judge apologised to the jury but the evidence of one witness was heard.

The judge explained that the general rule is that the accused person is allowed to be present for trial, but in this case the defendant, Urs Signer, had given permission for one Crown witness to give evidence whilst he was absent.

The witness, Kevin Wallace, a former police officer who had been involved in Operation 8, was in the stand for less than half an hour.

His evidence was that he had followed a car from Auckland to White Pine Bush near Whakatane. In the car was Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara and two others.

Just prior to Tauranga, at Te Puna, the vehicle stopped at the BP station there. The two passengers (People arrested during Operation 8 but who subsequently had all charges withdrawn) went into the supermarket attached to the station. After the passengers returned the car then drove on to White Pine Bush and stopped there.

The three people hopped out of the car and Wallace said it looked like they then got 'bags and stuff' out of the boot.

Wallace then concluded his surveillance of the car.

Defence did not cross-examine and the court was adjourned until 10am Friday 17th February.


Annemarie Thorby is a teacher activist and freelance writer accredited to cover the Operation 8 trial for Scoop.co.nz


ENDS

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