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Urewera 4 appeal must bring justice

Urewera 4 appeal must bring justice


From: October 15th Solidarity
Date: 22 August 2012

Justice must be done in the Urewera 4 case being appealed on Wednesday and Thursday in the Court of Appeal. The convictions and sentences of Tame Iti, Rangi Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey must all be overturned, said Valerie Morse, member of the October 15th Solidarity group.

The four people are appealing both the convictions on Arms Act charges and the sentences.

The appeal on the convictions is based in part on the use of illegal evidence gathered by police. During the course of the investigation the police routinely and deliberately engaged in illegal activity to try and further their case. Much of this involved trespassing and the placing of illegal surveillance devices in and around private property and dwellings. In 2011 The Supreme Court responded to the police offending and labeled it as "destructive of a credible system of justice".

The Supreme Court concluded that the offending of the police was more serious than any of the alleged arms act offences. The court deemed the evidence to be illegal and inadmissible against the 13 arms act accused. It was, however, admissible against the four defendants who were facing an additional more serious charge of participation in a criminal group, a charge that the defendants always maintained was laid by the crown purely as a way to introduce the illegal evidence in court.

This is exactly what happened, and as predicted the jury did not find the four guilty of being a criminal group, leaving the defendants to be charged using the illegal evidence that had been thrown out in relation to the other 13 defendants facing exactly the same charges. This is a serious miscarriage of justice.

Tame and Rangi are now serving significant terms of imprisonment for charges which should never have gone to court in the first place.

The appeal in relation to sentencing primarily concerns the judge's comments in his summing up of the case. Despite the fact that the jury simply did not buy the crown's case that the Urewera 4 were a criminal group, the judge sentenced the four as if they had been convicted of that charge.

ENDS


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