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No apology for Operation Eight prosecutions

No apology for Operation Eight prosecutions

The Police Commissioner, Peter Marshall, stands by decisions to prosecute individuals relating to Operation Eight.

Mr Marshall said Operation Eight did have a number of unintended consequences on the relationship between Tuhoe and Police.

"The community impact issues should not be confused with the validity of the prosecution process. The wider issues will take time to heal. On the other hand, the prosecutions relating to Operation Eight were undertaken in good faith and I have full confidence in the officers who undertook the investigation and of Crown Counsel who have led the prosecutions.

"Until September 1 the prosecution cases had withstood the full scrutiny of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. On September 2 the Supreme Court made a judgement concerning the admissibility of evidence which over-rode the decisions of both the High Court and the Court of Appeal. This necessitated the withdrawal of charges against many of the accused. It leaves serious charges remaining against four individuals.

"Naturally, Police accepts the decision of the Supreme Court and concurs with the Crown's decision to take immediate steps to withdraw many of the remaining charges.

"The cases have been well stewarded from the outset and Police will make no apologies in that regard.

"It is wrong to suggest that the original action to disrupt the activities of the individuals in 2007 was unlawful. Police action was undertaken with court issued warrants.

"Police hold firm to the view that evidence against the four individuals facing serous criminal charges will be placed before the court early next year and the public will then be in a much better position to assess the probity of Police actions relating to the investigation and criminal cases against the accused," said Mr Marshall.

The Commissioner said he noted that his predecessor, Howard Broad, had acknowledged that some of the Police's actions in October 2007 had an unfortunate impact on a number of people in the Ruatoki Valley who were innocently caught up in the actions that day. Those matters, however, do not undermine the very sound reasons for Police acting to execute warrants at that time.

"As the Solicitor General said in relation to the investigation, Police had good cause to believe the accused in Operation 8 had engaged in serious criminal behaviour.

"In his media statement on 8 November 2007, the Solicitor General said that he wished to stress that Police had successfully brought to an end what were very disturbing activities. In his words: 'That the Police did so without a single shot being fired, injury or loss or life, is a tremendous reflection on the professionalism and integrity of the New Zealand Police.'

"That statement remains true to this day and Police, therefore, will not be making any apology for our ongoing prosecutions," said Mr Marshall.

ENDS

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