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Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

Statement from Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Te Waiariki 6 March 2008

The prospect of nineteen defendants facing another six months under bail restrictions, before a decision is even made as whether they should face trial, foreshadows a serious miscarriage of justice, says Te Ururoa Flavell.

“These people are innocent until proven guilty. They deny the charges against them. They have been on bail almost five months already, and the depositions hearing is still six months away.

“That first hearing might well show there is no case to answer – otherwise a date will be set for the trial some time in the future. Meanwhile, every day, they live with charges hanging over their heads, affecting their families, their work, their communities. It is completely unjust to have to wait so long.

"Applications for legal aid lodged more than four months ago are still being processed by the Legal Services Agency" said Mr Flavell. Although Auckland District Court Judge Hubble directed the agency to make a decision about funding in the next two weeks, waiting around over all of this time will obviously take its toll on the defendants and their families".

“This is trial by duress. If it takes a year to decide whether there is even a case to answer, one can only guess how long it might take to find them innocent or guilty,” he said. “Meanwhile they are restricted in their movements and who they can associate with.

“The depositions hearing alone is forecast to last up to six weeks. The nineteen defendants have to attend court in Auckland – even though many of them live in the Bay of Plenty or other parts of the country. The cost and disruption for them and their families are quite intolerable.

“The Crown has swamped the judicial process with masses of evidence, most of which is likely be completely irrelevant, like bugged phone conversations on unrelated matters. But all of the more than 60,000 pages of information have to be sifted and assessed before it can be ignored.

“The time and effort, and the cost of lawyers, is out of all proportion to the seriousness of the charges. This is shaping up to be one of the biggest trials in New Zealand’s history – yet no-one was hurt and no property was damaged.

“It is a political show trial, staged by the police and the Crown to salvage their reputation after their terrorism case collapsed. They are using these cases to try and justify their years of surveillance and monitoring.

“The injustice is that the Crown side is paid to work on the case – the defendants have to pay their own travel, accommodation and phone costs, and significant legal costs, even if they get legal aid. And the longer things drag on, the greater the injustice” said Mr Flavell.


ENDS

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