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Protect Legal Self-Defence Rights, Says ACT

Protect Legal Self-Defence Rights, Says ACT

Monday 16 Jun 2003 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today disagreed with the National Party on restricting self-defence rights, and reiterated that the abuse of process during the Burrett trial did not warrant a change in our law - or any tinkering with a defendant's right to defend themselves.

"If they are silly enough to reject the generosity of the criminal legal aid scheme, defendants should still be allowed to conduct their trial without lawyers - all that is required to address abuse of process is for the Court of Appeal to announce that it won't interfere when lower judges add to the punishment of Burrett types," Mr Franks said.

"Criminals who drag out trials with fanciful stories - who add to the ordeal of victims with abusive questioning, and who make unnecessary misery for witnesses - should be told that, if found guilty, they will pay for that indulgence.

"We uphold the legal right of offenders to defend themselves. But if they use legal tolerance that would not be extended to a defence lawyer to waste the Court's time, or taxpayer money, they should face a substantial cost.

"All cases of unmeritorious appeal, intimidation and threatening of witnesses, and needless wasting of the Court's time can be dealt with in the same simple way. Reflecting such abuse in sentencing will provide both punishment and deterrent," Mr Franks said.

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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