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Indictment to criminalise Maori dissent

Media Release: issued

From: Justice NOW! collective

Date: October 30, 2008

The Crown has issued an indictment today against 18 people arrested in the police raids of October 15th 2007 in Ruatoki, Auckland, Hamilton, Whakatane, Palmerston North, Wellington and elsewhere.

Five of the 18 people have been charged with participation in a criminal gang under section 98A of the Crimes Act.

"These charges are a desperate attempt by the Government to save face after the Solicitor-General found 'insufficient evidence' to bring charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act. The Crown seeks to characterise political activists who support Tino Rangatiratanga and dissent from the Government as criminals" said spokesperson Sally Darity of the Justice NOW! Collective.

All 18 face charges under the Arms Act for possession of weapons and restricted weapons (Molotov cocktails). Although charges relating to 3 of the alleged 'camps' had been dismissed outright by Judge Mark Perkins due to lack of evidence following a month long depositions hearing, the Crown has also chosen to re-instate these charges.

"These raids and arrests continue a legacy of the brutal invasions of Parihaka, Maungapohatu, Takaparawha and Pakaitore. This is part of a systematic attack on Maori communities. The Government's support of the 'war on terrorism' in the passage of a raft of anti-terrorism laws and expanded police and Security Intelligence Service budgets confirm their agenda to control the population through surveillence and brutal repression of any genuine dissent."

The Crown has made further application to move all of the proceedings to the High Court in Auckland. Pre-trial applications may take up to 6 months to resolve meaning a trial is unlikely before the end of 2009.

Support for the defendants and their families is greatly needed in this continuing struggle. For more information please visit www.October15thSolidarity.info


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