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Urewera 4: State Nil

Urewera 4: State Nil


DATE: 8th May 2012 - for immediate release
FROM: October 15th Solidarity

"We are relieved," said Ana Cocker from the October 15th Solidarity Group in response to the announcement that the Urewera 4 will not be re-tried on Section 98a, 'Participation in an Organised Criminal Group.'

"This decision has been long overdue, in fact the whole case should never have gone ahead. It is now time the firearms convictions against Tame Iti, Rangi Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey to be thrown out as well."

The raids happened more than four years ago on October 15th 2007, after more than a year of surveillance. 17 people were arrested. On that day they were threatened with Terrorism charges, nearly a month later later they were charged with Arms Act offences, and then in October 2008 five people had the charge of Participation added.

"The jury could not be convinced that there was any organised criminal group, and that should have been the end of it."

On March 20th this year, on the third day of deliberations, the jury told the Court that they were hung. They were unable to reach a verdict on the main charge of Participation. The four defendants were convicted however, on approximately half of the Arms Act charges.

"Those convictions are based on illegally gathered evidence," said Ms Cocker.

The Supreme Court ruled in September last year that that the covert police surveillance of the so-called camps was illegally obtained. Chief Justice Sian Elias described the police actions as 'extremely serious when assessed against the rights breached.... the deliberate unlawfulness of the police conduct in the covert filming, maintained over many entries and over a period of some 10 months, is destructive of an effective and credible system of justice.' (Chief Justice Sian Elias, Paragraphs 72 & 73 Supreme Court Decision 125 Hamed v. Queen)

Shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, the 13 defendants charged only with Arms Act offences had all charges against them dropped. It was not in the public interest and the offending of the police outweighed the seriousness of any of the Arms Act charges.

"The charge of Participation was laid specifically in order that the crown could use the illegally obtained evidence. The crown needed to justify Operation 8 and their invasion and spying on Te Urewera, by bringing convictions at any cost.

"Nothing in this case has been about so-called justice, it is all about criminalising dissent and halting aspirations for Tuhoe autonomy.

"The whole case has been a story of harassment of Ngai Tuhoe, the defendants, their communities, families and supporters," said Ms Cocker.

"It is time to completely end this farce now and for the Arms Act convictions to also be thrown out."

ENDS

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