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ACT Anticipated Witness Intimidation Problem

Tuesday 16 Jul 2002

ACT Election policy anticipated the witness intimidation problem suspected in Palmerston North. Witness intimidation has been corrupting justice in New Zealand for many years says ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks.

"Phil Goff called witness intimidation `a hugely serious problem' two-and-a-half years ago and said he was looking for lessons on how to better protect witnesses through fresh legislation or new safeguards - we've had neither," Mr Franks said.

ACT's policy in its manifesto says:

"Match perjury and witness intimidation with the penalty that the perpetrator is trying to avoid."

Mr Franks says that in this latest case it would mean that if Palmerston North Mongrel mob members were found to have intimidated the witness they would receive a sentence as if for murder.

"The Government should have taken more than token steps after the murder of Chris Crean on his front steps for giving evidence against gang members. ACT has consistently pointed out that these offences and perversions of justice will continue until it doesn't pay. The prospect of a 2 year additional sentence probably served concurrently, is laughable as a disincentive to gang intimidation of witnesses.

"Secret witness provisions have their own risks of perversions of justice.

"Witness protection programs can go only so far. It is an outrage anyway when innocent people have to move to Australia while the criminals run free in New Zealand. The key is to ensure that the person who might think of benefiting from intimidating a witness is instead begging his associates not to try it, and they won't risk joining him in the dock anyway," Stephen Franks said.

ACT's manifesto can be viewed at http://www.act.org.nz/action/campaigns/manifesto2002/index.html

Ends


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