Next Court appearance is 3 July 2012 - this is a bail application for Taame and Rangi in the Court of Appeal in Wellington.
Appeal date for Taame and Rangi (and possibly Urs and Emily, too) will be 22 August in the Court of Appeal in Wellington.
The courtroom is open to the public on both dates (usual court start time is 10am but ring the court to confirm), and supporters are encouraged to attend.
Taame and Rangi have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 2.5 years. Urs and Emily have been sentenced to 9 months home detention. The judge' s sentencing notes are here.
COUNT 1 – Participation in an organised criminal group – JURY HUNG ON ALL DEFENDANTS
COUNT 2 – Arms Act (Nov 2006) – All not guilty
COUNT 3 – Arms Act (Jan 2007) – All guilty
COUNT 4 – Arms Act (April 2007) – All not guilty
COUNT 5 – Arms Act (June 2007) – Urs NOT guilty, others guilty
COUNT 6 – Arms Act (August 2007) – All not guilty
COUNT 7 – Arms Act (Molotov cocktails, Aug 2007) – All not guilty
COUNT 8 – Arms Act (Sept 2007) – All guilty
COUNT 9 – Arms Act (Molotov cocktails, Sept 2007) – All guilty
COUNT 10 – Arms Act (October 2007) – All guilty
COUNT 11 – Arms Act (Urs and Emily) – Guilty
COUNT 12 – Arms Act (Taame) – Guilty
COUNT 13 – Arms Act (Rangi) - Guilty
CALL OVER DATE 18 April 18 for Count 1
Sentencing Date for Firearms 24 May at 9am
Tuesday, March 21, 2012 4pm Jury near verdicts and/or deadlock
Jury returned to court to say that they couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on count 1. They have reached verdicts on counts 2-13 (Arms Act) but we don't know what yet these are. The jury has been advised by the judge to resume their deliberations on Count 1 (the 'participation in an organised criminal group') based on a majority verdict (consensus -1 e.g. 10 agree, 1 dissent) or to advise him if they cannot reach a majority verdict. The jury has again retired to consider Count 1.
Court report - Day 23 - Monday March 19, 2012
Court adjourned today at approximately 4:30 with no verdict. Deliberations resume at 10am tomorrow morning.
Monday, March 19, 2012 (mid-day): Jury asks questions about order of deliberations
The jury has asked two questions after lunch. They have indicated that they are unable to reach consensus on count 1 (Participation in an organised criminal group [Sec 98A Crimes Act]) and can they move on to deliberate on the other counts in the meantime.
The judge and counsel was recalled to discuss in chambers. Following that the jury and public were allowed back in. The response is yes - the jury can deliberate in any order they deem appropriate.
Urewera Court weekly wrap-up: Week 5, March 12-16
We had hoped to be going home today with not-guilty verdicts and a long weekend of relaxing; however, one of the jurors suffered an injury this morning and as a result, the jury deliberations have been postponed until Monday.
The week started with the last of defence. The lawyer for Urs Signer, Christopher Stevenson called three witnesses to give evidence on behalf of Urs. These were Dr Dugal McKinnon, Ruakere Hond and Dave Moskovitz. These people all spoke glowingly about Urs.
The lawyer for Emily Bailey, Val Nisbitt, did not call any evidence instead maintaining Em’s absolute right to have the case against her proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Court ended early on Monday, and indeed several days this week in order that the lawyers had ample opportunity to deliver their closings.
On Tuesday morning, the crown wound up its case, making a very peculiar adjustment to the main thrust of their case. Upon its opening, the crown said that the four people were an ‘organised criminal group’ with the objective of the commission of serious violent offences. But by its closing, the crown was instead saying that this group had an objective of peace resolution of Tuhoe’s grievances with the crown, and failing that, then they would in effect, wage a guerrilla war. All of this makes for interesting legal conundrum: can something really be an ‘objective’ if in fact it is only a possibility or contingency?
Tuesday afternoon was Taame’s closing by Russell Fairbrother. His address focused on Taame’s lifetime of activism, commitment to the negotiation process, and finally, on the arrangements made between Tuhoe and PF Olsen to provide local security for forestry operations. This was, in part, the basis for the camps.
Jeremy Bioletti acting for Rangi Kemara delivered a laconic closing suggesting the mathematical equation M + G = C (Maori + Guns = Crime) as the main rationale for the whole operation. He reminded the jury of the evidence to support his client’s position that not only did he not hold any objective involving serious violent offences but that his client held a firearms license and went to some lengths to ensure he had legal firearms.
Christopher Stevenson’s address was first up on Wednesday morning. He focused on Urs’ character and the people who had come to support him. He told the jury that Urs’ character had demonstrated a long-term commitment to peace and social justice. Moreover he said, attendance at these camps was incidental to Urs’ desire to immerse himself in te Ao Maori.
Val Nisbitt focused on several exhibits produced in Emily’s name testifying to her long-term involvement in peace and community building. He talked to the jury at length about their responsibility to be certain beyond a reasonable doubt and said that the crown’s case was totally fanciful.
The judge’s summing up on Thursday morning covered 4 areas: some general instructions given to all juries, an explanation of the law in relation to each count on the indictment, some caution to be exercised in relation to particular bits of evidence, and a summing up of all of the closing addresses.
The jury began deliberations on Thursday afternoon, but as noted at the beginning of this newsletter, a juror was injured and as a result court was cancelled on Friday.
Deliberations resume Monday morning, and we hope as many people will come to support and await the verdict with other friends, whaanau and freedom fighters.
Court report - Day 22 - March 16, 2012
A juror has been injured; court has been adjourned until Monday morning at 10am.
We are awaiting to hear if Rangi, Em, Urs and Taame will get bailed over the weekend.
Court report - Day 21 - March 15, 2012
The jury has adjourned for the day and their deliberations will continue starting at 10am tomorrow morning.
JURY IS NOW OUT. THURSDAY MARCH 15, 12:10pm
Court report - Day 20 - Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Today were the final two closing addresses. The judge will sum up tomorrow morning beginning at 9am. He expects this to finish about 12 noon and then the jury will retire to consider the verdict.
Christopher Stevenson gave a very compelling closing address for Urs. He noted that democracy needs people like Urs Signer, that such people help keep democracy honest. His address focused on two things: first, Urs' continuous history of involvement in issues of peace and justice; and two, Urs' continuing commitment to immersing himself in Te Ao Maori.
Christopher referenced each of the three witnesses who gave evidence for Urs: Dr Dugal McKinnon from the NZ School of Music, Ruakere Hond, Chairperson of Te Reo o Taranaki, and Dave Moskovitz, Urs' friend and band mate in the Klezmer Rebs.
He took the jury to each piece of evidence supporting Urs commitment to peace including his membership in Peace Action Wellington, his attendance at the 2006 and 2007 Parihaka International Peace Festivals, and Urs' role in doing peace workshops there, and the many comments the witnesses made about Urs' commitment to tolerance, peace, justice and community.
He reminded the jury repeatedly that the Crown was alleging 'murder and mayhem' - the burning of schools, churches and human flesh - in the indictment. He said that the crown's case was weak and that the jury would have to disregard all of the evidence presented by the defence in order to convict him and buy the crown's story.
He went on to talk about Urs' commitment to Te Ao Maori, reminding the jury of the evidence of Tamati Kruger that Ruatoki was a good place to learn te reo Maori and tikanga. His car was found with a prospectus for Massey University to enroll as a teacher, another demonstration that the idea that he was simultaneously part of an 'organised criminal group' was ludicrous.
He said that Urs' attendance at the camps was incidental to him being in Ruatoki, and hardly the centrepiece of his life as would be expected of someone who was engaged in a group with the objectives of 'murder and mayhem'.
He specifically addressed each charge that Urs was facing. Of the criminal group, he pointed to a serious lack of any evidence of an objective whatsoever that Urs either knew about or shared. He addressed the 'scenario' document head on saying it was fantasy - and that it directly contradicted the crown's case of urban warfare since all such scenarios were based in Ruatoki. He reminded the jury about rich businessmen and survivalists who go shooting or war gaming for a bit of weekend fun and team building. He said that doing military-style maneuvers was not illegal.
Of the Arms charges he said: In November 2006 and October 2007 charge, Christopher said that there simply was no evidence to prove that Urs was even there. For the January 2007 and September 2007 charges, he would accept that Urs was there, but noted that he was supervised by someone with a firearms license and again, that such attendance was largely incidental to living in Ruatoki. Finally he noted for the June and August wananga, that Urs was in Switzerland.
He urged the jury to find Urs not guilty, and talked about the standard of 'beyond reasonable doubt.'
First and foremost, Val Nisbitt for Emily said 'Nothing happened.' After 18 months of surveillance, and following some 60 suspects around, nothing happened. And nothing was going to happen he said. He said he had never had a case like this despite practicing law for many years. Nothing happened, and more than that, he said, the crown has totally changed its case from the time they opened the case until now. After five years he said, the crown decided in the past five weeks that instead of the objective of 'serious violent offences' the crown's closing argument was that if plan A didn't work out (e.g. negotiation between Tuhoe and the crown) that there would be a Plan B involving serious violent offences. This is a significant change since it in effect makes the central tenant of the 98A organised criminal group totally untenable since you can't simultaneously hold two objectives (e.g. goal: a desired end point) in which one is only conditional upon the failure of the other.
Val addressed the jury specifically about the 'thermite bomb' recipe (not found among the defendants who are charged) reminding the jury that the crown got it wrong in their opening saying it had been found on Ira Bailey's desk, when in fact it had been found somewhat buried on a bedroom shelf, and that in evidence, it was admitted that there was no way of knowing how old this items was.
He summed up the crown case and then called it fanciful. He said maybe his case was fanciful, too, but that the burden of the crown was on proving from start to finish 'beyond a reasonable doubt' that these people had done what was alleged. He said that simply was not plausible Val went on to discuss Emily's activism and her commitment to a huge range of social projects noting that someone so busily committed to positive social change was totally inconsistent with someone belonging to an 'organised criminal group' and that Emily had no previous convictions. While he admitted that Emily had attended some of these wananga, he said that there was nothing unlawful about doing so, and that Em's involvement was not as an organiser but simply as an organised attendee.
Val discussed the role of the jury and said that not only had the crown not reached the threshold of 'beyond reasonable doubt' but that they hadn't even reached the much lower civil threshold of 'on the balance of probabilities'. He said the jury must acquit. And to pick up on Jeremy Bioletti's suggestion to 'kick it to the curb' Val urged they go further and take it all the way to the tip.
Court report - Day 19 - March 13, 2012
The crown closed their case this morning. Ross Burns took the jury to New Zealand in 1981 and talked about how difficult it was then that 'those things were happening' e.g. the protests, and what he described as the violence. He talked at length trying to draw out an analogy between what he saw as the unbelievable and violent events of 1981 and the case. In effect he said that the jury must believe the events as the crown saw them in this case, much as the events of the Springbok tour while unbelievable (and undesirable in his World) did actually happen.
He went on to talk about 'what this case isn't.' He said that the evidence did not support a narrative of bush training, or of security work, or youth employment opportunities.
He told the jury that while they had heard much about Mr Iti's good side, that in the view of the crown case, Taame clearly had a 'private side' in which he was preparing for 'Plan B' - in their view, the commission of serious violent offences.
In another set of specially prepared booklets, the crown went to lengths to outline precisely what they said the 'serious violent offences' were including murder, arson, interfering with transport, and kidnapping. These booklets had information about each specific charge (1 count of participation in an organised criminal group, and 12 Arms Act) followed by the evidence they said supported each charge. Prosecutor Burns emphasized that much of the case was not contested: issues of identity were not challenged except nominally by Taame, and attribution of text messages and chat logs were not in contention, he said.
Burns went over and over the same text messages and chat logs that are the some of the few pieces of a very scant case. He closed his address after about an hour and a half telling the jury in effect to buy what he was selling despite the fact that it all seemed pretty unbelievable.
Russell Fairbrother followed and picked up the Springbok proposition. Instead of some violent protest activity, Russell talked to the jury of the people who went to great lengths and faced serious repercussions to fight racism. He said that the Springbok protests were something we are very proud of as New Zealanders as part of our contribution to end apartheid. He said history often judged things differently after the passage of time, and that the jury needed think about how this case might be viewed after some time.
He went on to talk at length about Taame as a leader and as a 'precursor' of the movement towards the recognition of Mana Motuhake by the crown. He said that long after history had forgotten about the lawyers and the judge and the jury in this case, Taame would be remembered. He said he was an important person to us and to the generation that followed because while his ideas sometimes made us uncomfortable in that they were demanding that we debate issues and confront attitudes.
Russell addressed the various chat logs attributed to Taame. He made a very compelling case that none of these could be definitively linked to Taame because they referred to Taame in the third person and were signed off 'Taku Aroha' (my love) and written tot a man called 'Otautahi Tane'. He said it was a huge leap for the crown to suggest that this was Taame. It simply was not credible.
He reiterated his points about the two worlds - Te Ao Pakeha and Te Ao Maori - and said that while he wasn't criticising the police or crown, he said that the police's view was through a 'keyhole' and lacked any context. He said the police simply can't just capture a small snippet of Tuhoe life and expect to understand what is going on.
As has been demonstrated in evidence given by Rau Hunt, the lawful purpose was training people in VIP close personal protection.
He went on to say that he was relying primarily on the crown's own evidence from their military expert, and from Rau Hunt to prove that Rangi is not guilty.
He reminded the jury that nothing had happened: no serious and violent offences had been committed. For 18 months, these wananga were going on and nothing ever happened. He said that while the people who had attended the camps might have been 'dreaming' of doing some kind of security work, or fulfilling similar aspirations, they did not have the sinister intentions attributed to them by the crown.
He said that in the first instance, that Rangi had a lawful proper and sufficient purpose, e.g. training. He went on to say that the crown had no evidence of an objective to commit serious and violent offences.
He reminded the jury that an interest in firearms was not somehow intrinsically bad just like an interest in Mana Motuhake or fishing was inherently bad, he said.
He said that there were a small number of intemperate remarks that were effectively incidental to the case. Rather, if you look at the footage, he said, you can see a progressive course of people receiving a certain type of skills. His view differed from the crown because the crown say the group wanted to commit serious violent offences by way of urban warfare.
The case resumes with closing arguments for Urs and Emily tomorrow and the judge’s summing up on Thursday. It looks likely the jury will retire to begin consideration of their verdict on Thursday afternoon.
Court report - Day 18 - Monday, March 12, 2012
Today marked the end of the defence case. There were three witnesses who appeared for Urs Signer: Dugal McKinnon, Lecturer at the NZ School of Music; Ruakere Hond, chairman of Te Reo o Taranaki and Rangatira of Parihaka; and Dave Moskovitz, who plays in the Klezmer Rebs with Urs.
Christopher Stevenson opened Urs' case by discussing the weighty decision that the jury would have to make in the next few days, noting that the case was much shorter than anticipated, and that they wouldn't get any second chance to get it right. He said that the case would come to form part of their lives now, too, and that their role was the most important. He said that the evidence would be given to assist the jury to understand what kind of person Urs is, and to provide them with some important background. At the end, he reminded the jury that the crown are alleging that these people wanted to commit murder and mayhem - and that these allegations were preposterous.
Dugal McKinnon, a very gently spoken man, gave evidence of Urs' generous spirit with his other music students, his brilliance as both a composer and as a clarinet player, and his commitment to social justice. He described a piece that Urs composed in his third year about the Louise Nicholas case, and Urs focus on his music a vehicle for social justice. He talked about how Urs had given his time and energy to making sure there was student representation at the newly merged NZ School of Music, which is still in place now.
Ruakere Hond gave a resounding mihi to begin his evidence, noting that he came as a representative of Parihaka and that Urs and Emily both had the support of the entire Pa. He gave his greetings to Tuhoe and noted the long connection between Taranaki and Tuhoe. He also said that the person who should be giving evidence, Te Miringa Hohaia, had passed away last year, and so couldn't be there, but that he was instrumental in bringing Urs and Emily to the Pa, and had also been a long-time friend of Taame's.
Ruakere discussed the 1860s land confiscation by Von Tempsky and the crown forces that forced Taranaki peoples off their land in order to satisfy pakeha demands for land. He talked of the location of Parihaka as a place that had moved inland after the original settlement closer to the beach had been shelled by the crown from ships offshore.
He talked of Parihaka rangatira Tohu Kakahi and TeWhiti o Rongomai who advocated passive resistance to the crown incursions on their land. He said that Tohu and TeWhiti became leaders in part because other Taranaki rangatira had been killed, and that these two possessed skills for agriculture and horticulture. He talked of the importance of gardens to the survival of the settlement in the time leading up to the crown invasion in 1881, when several thousand troops descended upon the village, and found children playing and women carrying kai. He talked of the manaaki given even to crown that were welcomed as manuhiri.
All of this evidence led up to discussions about the role Urs and Emily have been playing as part of the community at Parihaka. Ruakere came to know Urs and Emily through the Peace Festivals, first held in 2006. At that time, Urs came as part of a Peace Action Wellington group who had a weekend-long stall and conducted non-violence direct action training.
He talked of the connection of Emily's family to Parihaka, and said that Urs' connection was through Emily, as with their baby, Piriniki. Urs was not, he said, regarded as a foreigner, but as part of the life and community of Parihaka, and he often played a very important role on the paepae as kaikorero for overseas groups.
He described the establishment of the community gardens by Emily and Urs as a project that is very important to the revitalisation of the life of the Pa. He also discussed at length the commitment of Urs and Emily to the monthly meetings on the 18th and 19th in which issues of importance, both local and global, are discussed.
He said that Urs and Emily were parents to all of the children on the pa, and said that they shared a generosity of spirit, and lived in accordance with the beliefs of the people and history of Parihaka.
Upon cross examination, he was asked by the crown prosecutor whether he thought perhaps Urs and Emily had 'two faces' - one face that they were presenting at Parihaka as a loving and caring couple who participated in the community, and another side that did 'bad things'. Ruakere was unmoved by this and said it was totally inconsistent with what he knew of them. He was asked about military patrols and what he thought of that. He said again that it was inconsistent with what he knew. He also said of the firearm found with Emily that he did not find it surprising knowing that they had been spending time in Tuhoe as firearms were extremely common there. He was asked about a range of other random bits of crown evidence: conversations between other people who are not charged in the case. His response was 'what does that have to do with Urs?'
When asked by the defence again about the context, he said he didn't know the context but that he thought it was a wananga and that such wananga were going on in Tuhoe all the time.
The last witness of the day was David Moskovitz who is the trumpet player and singer for the Klezmer Rebs. He described Urs' participation in the band, the commitment of the band to playing music of liberation and struggle, and the positive role Urs' has had in composing songs for the band.
Dave talked of the history of the Jews in struggling against oppression and pogroms in Eastern Europe in the 1800s, the struggle of Jews in the labor movement in the US, and the struggle of Jews against the Nazis and the holocaust. He said that Urs was not Jewish, but had a Jewish soul. One of Urs' compositions was jointly co-writing a song with Dave's 83-year old mother in the United States about partying.
Dave was subject to cross-examination and asked about various photos of Urs. He said none of that changed his opinion of Urs. He reminded the jury that he didn't know the context of the photos, and that context was very important.
Court was adjourned about 12 noon in order that some legal issues could be discussed. In particular, the 'question line' - the string of questions that the jury will have to consider when evaluating each charge - was being argued by the defence and crown. This is of crucial importance because how these questions in relation to both the 98A (participation in an organised criminal group) and the Sec 45 Arms Act charges are phrased determines how the jury understands their role in relation to making a determination of not-guilty or guilty.
The timetable for the next few days is expected to be (these are only ESTIMATES!)
-Tuesday 10am : Crown closing address
Court report - Day 17 - March 8, 2012
Evidence from Tamati Kruger, spokesperson for Tuhoe took most of the day. His evidence in chief primarily concerned Tuhoe's history, evolving relationship with the crown, and the role of Taame Iti in that. Tamati first discussed a forestry contract with a company called PF Olsen. In 2007, two months after the raids of 15 October, Tuhoe concluded a contract with Olsen to provide security for the forestry company with the Tuhoe block of land - Te Manawa o Tuhoe. Tamati discussed that at remote forestry operations issues such as the theft of fuel and other property and the growing of marijuana were issues.
Tamati talked extensively about the Waitangi Tribunal process, visit to Ruatoki in 2005 (in which there was a dramatic reenactment of the scorched earth policies of the crown by locals as the Tribunal members were pulled in a horse and cart, and then welcomed onto the marae with Taame shooting a flag).
Tamati was asked to about the compact that Tuhoe signed with the crown in 2011. He said that it was a political compact much like an international treaty, and it was very important to Tuhoe. It signalled a change in crown attitude. It recognised Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe and it was unique among iwi, he said. It concluded a century and a half of a history of misery of Tuhoe, of prejudice by the crown. He described Mana Motuhake as Tuhoe's right to determine its own future, to govern its own affairs, and to live by their own values. Tamati said that Taame was the precursor of all of these things, helping to bring them into being. Mana motuhake is how Tuhoe constructs itself, and it predates parliament, and predates settlement.
There was extensive discussion about the confiscation line - about its location, history and significance. It was clarified that the police roadblock of 15 October 2007 was most certainly setup on this line.
There was discussion about the word 'rama' - and about its literal and metaphorical meanings. Tamati said that 'rama' was word used inh the bible to mean in essence 'light the way'.
He went on to discuss his invitation to speak at a 'rama' in the winter of 2007. He was picked up at his home in Taneatua at about midnight, taken to an area around Te Tawa in the bush where he delivered a 20 minute talk on Tuhoe history and tikanga. He said that Taame had been given the permission and endorsement of the Hauora for conducting the training.
He discussed the feelings of dispossession as manifesting in feelings so strong they could be described as hatred among some Tuhoe. However, he said that the movement on addressing historical greivances had lessened these feelings.
His discussion held the jury's attention, and it wasn't until after lunch that cross examination finished. The cross examination was, as could be expected, utterly unconcerned with Tuhoe history or greivances - initially describing them as Tuhoe 'problems'. The crown prosecutor went on to say that he should be excused for his poor pronunciation of te reo Maori because he was pakeha. A bitterly ironic twist in a case which seems so utterly steeped in a gap of understanding.
The other defence lawyers questioned him further, first in relation to Tuhoe's relationship with Maniapoto. He was also asked about how manuhiri (guests or visitors) are treated within Tuhoe, and finally whether Taame's activism often necessitated an element of secrecy for the purposes of dramatic surprise.
Cross examination focused on who was at this camp he attended, and whether there were guns and balaclavas there. He finished up by asking what he thought about military patrols - which he said were naturally violent - and whether violence featured in Tuhoe's approach to settling greivances. He said 'no'. He was asked about whether the use of molotov cocktails woudl ever be appropriate tikanga. He said 'no'.
The only other witness for the day, and the close of Taame's case, was Dr David Williams, professor of law at University of Auckland. His evidence focused on his experience working in other colonial countries and the use of language such as 'revolution' to describe the peaceful decolonisation of a number of countries in Africa where he has experience.
Russell Fairbrother closed his case for Taame. Jeremy Bioletti indicated that he would not be presenting any evidence for Rangi. The defence case for Urs begins on Monday at the High Court at 10am.
We are encourgaing people to come to court once the jury retires to render a verdict. We hope to have a large crowd at the court when a decision is made. We will post on Indymedia as soon as the jury has retired.
Court Report - Day 16 - March 6, 2012
Russell Fairbrother brilliantly opened the defence case this morning. He briefly described his own life growing up in the country, the son of an illiterate man. This finished by saying that by the time he went to law school, he had never heard of the Treaty. He said to the jury that there are parts of New Zealand which are quite foreign to city people; there are parts of New Zealand where it is even very different from any country place. Ruatoki is one of these places. He talked about the Beatles song 'Revolution' and how it called for a revolution of hearts and minds. He said that there was important constitutional change going on in New Zealand now and that in part Taame played a role in making that happen.
He told the jury he would be calling four witnesses: Paul McHugh, a reader in law at Cambridge University; Rau Hunt, one of the former accused in the case; David Williams, professor of law at University of Auckland, and Tamati Kruger, Tuhoe spokesperson.
He said that when he finished his case, the jury would see that there was no murder or mayhem planned. That events or behaviour which might seem quite extraordinary in the city - like walking around with a shotgun - was a matter of context, and would be quite differently understood in the country. He said that the jury must try to understand that the divide between the different worlds had to be bridged by them.
The morning's evidence began with Paul McHugh via videolink. His speciality is the history of the British Crown's relationship with indigenous people.
He then proceeded to give the jury some background history on New Zealand's crown sovereingty and governance. He said that while we might think that the state is an unchanging entity, in fact NZ's history has seen significant changes in governance - all under the so-called Westminster system - from a colonial monarchy to a parliamentary democracy. He said that in the 1840s there was a prevailing legal theory about sovereignty - that it was unlimited, indivisible, unanswerable etc, but that while there was this theory, the reality on the ground was that people don't just change the legal system they are part of overnight. So while the British Crown was trying to assert legal authority, tikanga Maori was still very much the reality for Maori. He said that for Tuhoe the situation was special: Tuhoe never signed the Treaty, they didn't even have contact with the Crown until 1862 and then things happened quickly including the 1866 confiscation of land, the pursuit of Te Kooti through the Urewera, the 1871 Compact with the government and the 1894 Urewera reserves act granting sovereignty to Tuhoe (in a form he described as akin to municipalism). He talked about Prime Minister Dick Seddon visiting the Urewera in 1894 and being given a taiaha as a symbol of the special relationship of Tuhoe with the crown.
He went on to talk about Taame's politics of protest which he described as theatrical, flamboyant and highly adroit in his use of the media and yet deeply immersed in Te Ao Maori. He said that it was full of metaphor and symbolism and played on pakeha fearfulness. He said Taame's protests were in the same vein as those of indigenous peoples around the world: petitions, hikoi, blockades, embassies.
He went on to talk about the extension of the Waitangi Tribunal's mandate in 1985 to investigate historical claims and the possibilities this had opened up in terms of a change to crown sovereignty: e.g. it was the crown investigating itself. He noted Taame's highly theatrical shooting of the flag in the context of the Tribunal's visit to Ruatoki as a very good example of the kind of politics of protest that he practiced. He discussed the Tribunal's 2 volume report on Tuhoe and noted that it largely upheld claims made for territorial distinctiveness and juridictional autonomy for Tuhoe. He said that there were plenty of 'asymetrical models' of federalism available to the NZ government for engaging with Tuhoe and some significant progress had been made because of 1. the Tribunal report 2. Judith Binney's book "Encircled Lands" and 3. Taame's activism.
He said that change does not occur without activism, and that people regarded as rabble rousers and tub thumpers in their time were often later regarded as heros. He likened the actions of John Wilkes in England who campaigned for jury trials and free elections and who was regarded as crazy then, but now widely hailed. We might not agree, McHugh said, with activist, but they raise questions about how we organise our society and what we are doing that need to be raised.
He said that Pakeha were not very open to constitution change in NZ but that in part because of Taame that in 2011 a Ministerial committee had been established to discuss constitutional change. He noted that in Canada Section 35 of their constitution entrenched aboriginal rights.
Finally, he noted that real significant constitutional change cannot happened with the support of the majority of the people - like MMP he said - and again reminded the jury that crown sovereignty is always being refined.
He was briefly cross examined by Ross Burns. Burn's questions asked about violence being a part of Tuhoe's methods, and about whether he knew about Taame's 'private activism' as opposed to his public activism. Both questions didn't go very far.
The judge asked him to expand on what he meant by 'pakeha fearfulness'. It was a very good question. McHugh responded by talking about a cultural gap between Maori and Pakeha, and that Maori ways of doing things were not often understood at all by pakeha and that often created a degree of fear in pakeha. He said that Taame's protest in the past had certainly played into this, in part, to highlight how far apart the two worlds were. He went on to reiterate that pakeha had not gone very far in trying to bridge that gap.
The only other witness for the day was Rau Hunt, one of the formerly accused in the case. Hunt is a 20-year veteran of the NZ Navy who now works in private security. He worked doing anti-submarine warfare, as a drill and weapons instructor. He said that yes he had been invited to give training to people at the Whetu Road site in October. He said that he had been asked to do a number of basic training drills around convoy movements and explosive searches of vehicles. He said that he had been asked to prepare a proposal to start up a local Ruatoki security company to provide some local employment to people to contract to logging companies whose machinery etc was left in the forest areas for long periods. He said that although he had been asked to come back, he didn't think it was worth his time - none of the people had the requisite skills for doing the work.
He was briefly cross examined by Ross Burns who asked whether there had been another group of people training. Yes, he said, they went away walking down the river with Rangi. He was asked if people had their faces covered: yes he said, and it was a little unusual. He was asked what Tuhoe Lambert was doing during this time. 'Standing around his vehicle' he said.
Upon reexamination, he said Taame had never had his face covered, and as far as he could remember, never had a gun. He was asked what happened to the charge he face in relation to the case: 'They dropped the charges'.
Court resumes at 10am for a short day tomorrow. Russell Fairbrother's last two witnesses are expected first thing in the morning.
Court report - Day 15 - March 6, 2012
Today was the end of the crown case. Court was adjourned at 1pm following the cross examination of Det Aaron Pascoe, the person in charge of Operation 8.
Pascoe was subject to extensive cross examination by all of the defence lawyers each focusing on different aspects of the case. Russell Fairbrother asked if Pascoe was familiar with Taame's extensive history of political activism starting in the trade union movement, including the Tent Embassy at Parliament, being part of the occupation at Moutou Gardens and organising protests against the planting of pine trees on the Tuhoe sacred mountain Taiarahia. Pascoe said yes, he was familiar with it. He was asked if he was familiar with the history of Tuhoe. He said, 'yes, more so than the average kiwi on the street'. Did he know that John Key was going to a remote marae within Te Urewera in August 2007 with Taame Iti as one of the hosts. Yes, he said he did know that at the time. He was aware that no police escort accompanied Mr Key on that occassion. Yes, he knew that too. Were you consulted about setting up a roadblock on the confiscation line on 15 October 2007? Mr Fairbrother asked. Pascoe replied that he did not believe that it was set up on the confiscation line.
Mr Bioletti asked Pasoce if he was familiar with Tuhoe Lambert's military background and employment after his tours of duty in Vietnam and Malaysia. H challenged Pascoe's understanding of the word 'rama'. Pascoe agreed that it was a 'wananga' for training and learning - learning about firearms and throwing molotov cocktails, he said.
Christopher Stevenson's cross examination on behalf of Urs focused on the organisation of the Special Investigation Group. Pascoe was asked about the role of the SIG in collecting intelligence on activists. He was asked about the role of police informant Rob Gilchrist in providing information on a whole range of political activists including Greenpeace, Auckland Animal Action and Peace Action Wellington. In effect, he said he would neither confirm nor deny anything about Gilchrist. He said that the Threat Assessment Unit maintained a seperate identity after the SIG was formed, but that many of their tasks would now be done by the SIG. He clarified that Urs had no criminal convictions except a charge of obstructing a public footpath which is tantamount to a traffic ticket. He was asked some further questions about Tuhoe history including if he knew that the crown wanted to charge Rua Kenana with sedition, the police raided Maungapohatu and killed Rua's son (shot in the back like a dog, was the way it was expressed in 'Encircled Lands') was tried in what was the longest trial in New Zealand history up until that time (1916) and was ultimately acquitted. Pascoe said maybe he knew, he couldn't be sure.
Val Nisbett's cross examination focused on the location of the recipe for the thermite bomb, which was found in the room of a person who is not on trial. Nisbett asked why if this was such a central part of the crown case, was it returned in 2008 to the person from whom it was taken? Pascoe's response said that he didn't see the relevance of it at the time. Val also asked if Emily had any criminal convictions - the answer was 'no'.
The day finished early in order that the lawyers could argue in private about whether some expert evidence would be admissible. On one hand, the crown presents a considerable lot of evidence about people who are not on trial, some of whom have never been charged in relation to the case to be used against the four people. On the other hand they then argue that defence witnesses may present some 'subjective' evidence about the accused.
Court resumes 10am Wednesday morning in Courtroom 15, Auckland High Court.
Court report - Day 14 - March 5, 2012
The day began with Detective Hamish McDonald under cross exmination by Val Niesbitt who acts for Emily Bailey. He was the 'Officer in Charge of Suspects'. When asked to estimate how many people been to these so-called 'camps' or wananga, Val suggested to him that 200 people had attended. He said that he thought less than 200 but couldn't say exactly how many. He was then asked about investigating a car registered to a Ngaruawahia address and as it turned out to be that of former Green MP Nandor Tanczos, just exactly how wide was this investigation. How many people did the police investigate?
He was followed by Wayne Dil, a former firearms dealer, whose testimony seemed designed to lighten up Monday morning. He described one of the firearms (a semi-automatic shotgun) as a 'fun gun' - something that a group of mates might take out for target practice. He described selling legal class A firearms to Rangi and making sure his license was legal and valid at all stages. Rangi gave him a firearm that was in pieces and even Wayne didn't know how to repair it. So he was surprised to be shown a photograph of it all put together. It was seized from him on the 15th of Ocotober and the police have charged Rangi with unlawful possession of it, even though the gun belonged to Dil and was in his possession (and in fact was in pieces at the time of the raid). Under cross examination, he said targets might be anything including gas bottles.
An fingerprint officer followed, Peter Laurie Roberts, who testified that he found 2 prints on the so-called 'Scenarios' document (an A4 sheet of paper with several scenarios sketched-out). one of these prints was determined to be the palm print of Urs Signer. The other is a single finger print from an unknown person. Roberts said that fingerprints can be left on items for years after the fact so dating a fingerprint isn't really possible. He said that the unknown fingerprint was checked against 20 people who either were charged or part of the investigation into Operation 8 and against the police fingerprint database, but was not matched.
Alan Langille, a specialists in the Electronic crime lab, followed, giving evidence about the hard drives seized when the cops raided houses on 15 October. In particular he talked about Ao Cafe (a website that used to host several chat rooms where people could discuss a wide range of issues relating to te Ao Maori) and about how logs of private chat conversations were found on seized computers. The prosecution attempted to identify various usernames and profiles and match those up with various conversations. As noted under cross examination was the fact that these 'log files' and 'profiles' documents were effectively just notepad documents that could be opened and altered by any user of the computer and they did not necessarily bear any relationship to the on-line chat rooms. Langille admitted that there had been no attempt to hide these files, delete them, and that changing the setting in order that no log was kept was a very simple operation.
His evidence was followed by Michael Cartwright, an old hand in the Threat Assessment Unit who has now moved on to the National Intelligence Unit at Police National Headquarters in Wellington. He gave a very confused bit of evidence about his interaction with a username 'Taipo' on Ao Cafe, but stumbled under cross examination as he couldn't really remember how it worked, what was private or public. What he did reveal was that the person who he was having a conversation with was no fan of the Maori party remarking that he thought the party had co-opted the Seabed and Foreshore Hikoi for their own political ends. He said simply that they had a 'general' converation covering the weather, politics and chit chat. He was asked if he knew Peter Gilroy, a Threat Assessment cop from Christchurch, and what if any knowledge he had of Rob Gilchrist. This was equally confused as he could not initially remember if he knew Gilroy or Gilchrist but eventually admitted he knew something, but couldn't quite remember what.
A brief of evidence from Darren Attwood read by consent followed. His job it seems simply involved following Emily and Urs around the greater Rotorua area in September 2007.
He was followed after lunch by Robert Kainuku. His evidence primarily concerned the ownership of various cellphones and sim cards and how the police were able to attribute a phone to a particular person.
The second-in-charge of Operation 8, Eamonn Whelan, took the stand in the afternoon. His evidence primarily concerned banking records - Kiwibank and National bank, of all people allegedly attending camps, and used eft-pos records to electronically track their movements. Under cross examination, he was asked about the many 'UKPs' - unknown persons - in the transcripts of text messages between Urs and a variety of people. Why, one of the defence lawyers asked, was this conversation recorded as being with an unknown person when it is clear from the contact details of the phone - which the police sezied - who sent it? She went through nearly every conversation transcribed as having been with Urs - and every UKP was easily identifiable.
His evidence was followed by another brief read by consent from Paige McElhinney of ESR. It was evidence concerning 9 Steinlager and 1 Royal Crown bottle found after the August camp, and 7 Steinlager bottles and a bit of material collected after the September camp. Her evidence was painfully dry, and in the end, all that it revealed was that there was a bit of burning and scorch marks around the neck of the bottles.
Last up today was Detective Aaron Pascoe, the leader of this whole fiasco called Operation 8. He is largely rehashing evidence already given by other people, expanding a bit on identification of various people, the scenarios document and the camoflague pattern around the crotch of Tame Iti's pants and why it was so distinctive. He is currently under cross examination by Russell Fairbrother, and this will continue tomorrow morning.
The crown prosecutor was vaguely reprimanded by the judge after an issue concerning how the witness was being led and hearsay evidence being given by Pascoe.
It is expected the crown case will be finished tomorrow, and the defence case will begin either tomorrow (Tuesday) or first thing Wednesday morning. There are a few unresolved legal issues which will be addressed by the judge (probably in chambers) at the end of the day tomorrow.
Court resumes 10am tomorrow in Courtroom 15, Auckland High Court
Court Report - Day 13, March 1st 2012
But anyway tomorrow is a holiday and it looks like the prosecution case will be wrapped up on Monday.
But in court today it was more of the same, a monologue from the police on the stand about the 'evidence' found. Detailed descriptions of guns and ammunition and camouflage clothing (they seem to have forgotten about balaclavas today). The way the evidence is presented is tedious, first the officer says what he found, he lists everything and then he gets taken through the evidence booklets to identify the object photographed as being what he had just spoken about. The impression is one of making it look a lot more than it really is. And when they're doing it they often forget to say that there was a firearms license, or that the ammunition was really old, or that someone else had already been charged with possession and therefore it had nothing to do with the case.
But today began with the cross-examination of Daniel Roser who had given evidence yesterday about searching a house in Ruatoki. It's the house which is alleged to have been another residence for Taame. Roser got himself a bit twisted up at times, saying he opened the boot when it actually was photographed as already been opened when he got there. He didn't know the size of the camouflage clothing, which looked like it wouldn't fit Taame and he agreed that there were documents in the house that weren't Taame's. The car that he found, he hadn't even bothered to see who it was registered to.
As to fingerprints, nothing was fingerprinted there 'cos that was not his role.
He didn't know what a blank pistol was, didn't know what a replica was. He pretended to know nothing about guns but then suddenly he became an expert about another gun that happened to be the real thing and went on in great detail about it. So after his big rave about guns and proving that he did know about weapons, when he was asked about the pistol again, he said 'my impression is that it is a blank-firing pistol.'
The next witness was an 'expert' from ESR talking about the 'thermite bomb' instructions. It had chemistry notes on it and a link to a webpage with a chemistry table on it. He said he was asked by the police to see if it was a viable thermite explosion or not. He said it is one but it has no instructions on how to ignite it, which happens to be a quite important step.
The next officer up was the Police Armourer, Robert Ngamoki. He went on and on about the guns and gun laws. And he agreed that a blank-firing pistol isn't a gun and you don't need a license for one. And the firearms found in Rangi's place were all ones he had a license for. And the military-style ones were all configured for sporting, not military use.
With a sawn off shot-gun he said how some people do that to go hunting pigs through the bush more easily. He also said that silencers on guns are now used by a lot of deer hunters as well as just rabbit hunters.
He said there over a million firearms in New Zealand and that there are about 230,000 licenses.
He looked quite happy playing with guns in the stand. And during the lunch break media came and took photos of them all.
The next person up was Kate Perot, nee Perry, only the second woman to give evidence in court. She was one of the officers who searched Moko and Awhi's house in Ruatoki and she was really defensive on the stand. Possibly she was scared of the truth coming out. She said that when she got to the house she spoke with a 'female' and then later on she said how she searched the 'female' and her 15 year old daughter. She said everyone was relaxed and happy the whole time. That the kids were fine in the garage and had things to play with.
When she left someone said 'liar' and Ross Burns complained about all the negative expressions on people's faces.
If you google her, you find out that she wanted to join the police ever since she was 6 years old.
He also found 'today's Empire is tomorrow's dust' and read just a bit of it out, out of context like always. He said he knew Em had written it 'cos of notes in the editorial and a reference to her film.
Under cross-examination he read more, “I hope you find this little zine interesting ...at least a way for you to procrastinate too.” When he got asked what procrastinate meant, he didn't know.
He said how he'd been following Em and other 'people of interest' and building profiles on them, but he didn't know about people going to Parihaka Peace Festival, and he hadn't checked out Em's bio on the film site. Val Nisbet read out Em's bio in court, it sounded really good.
The officer also hadn't read an article that was in the Dom Post in September 2007 that Em starred in, it even had a photo of her and you could see the patch that they keep talking about in court. It was a story about seed-bombing in the city.
So they only do really selective surveillance.
Val Nisbet has more questioning of Hamish MacDonald to do, so he will be back on the stand on Monday.
And then hopefully on Tuesday the defence can begin.
Next Friday is also going to be a holiday. The judge has a prior commitment so we get a day-off then as well.
Court report - Day 12 - February 29, 2012
Today was another day full of police witnesses. None particularly interesting, primarily focused on scene examinations.
First up was Graham Timms who was the Officer in charge of exhibits at Rangi's caravan and car. His evidence focused on finding a blank firing pistol, a firearms licence, a locked firearms cabinet and locked ammunition cabinet, and firearms locked in the boot of the car. under cross examination, many of these points were elaborated on, including that the firearms were all found in the 'sporting' configuration, and that no balaclavas were found.
He was followed by Mark Wilson Tellerer Pedrick who performed a search of Rangi's workplace. He was at pains to describe finding the book 'Zapatista: chronicle of a rebellion' and a number of CDs with documentaries on them including movies 'Tuhoe: a history of resistance' an Oliver Stone film 'Commandant', and a film about Che Guevara - a person he had clearly never heard of given his mangled pronunciation.
His cross examination by Russell Fairbrother asked him to explain what criteria he used in identifying what was taken or not. He had no answer. His answers were circular insofar as he said he was tasked to find things of interest, but when asked why 'Tuhoe a history of resistance' was of interest, he said he was tasked by another officer. He also couldn't answer whether it was 'resistance' or 'Tuhoe' which had caught his interest. He was asked if he thought only of armed resistance when thinking of resistance and that surely Bastion Point, Moutou Gardens, and the Springbok tour were examples of peaceful resistance.
He was followed by Ricky Ragley who carried out the search of Maraki Teepa's house in Ruatoki. At this house, 10 children were held captive by the Armed Offenders Squad and no relatives or neighbours were allowed to come care for them for a number of hours. Among the items found were a WWII rifle which had belonged to Maraki's grandfather, tino rangatiratanga and Tuhoe gear, and two books - 'Sinn Fein counter-interrogation techniques' and 'Fighting techniques of the special forces.' Maraki was only ever charged with attendance at one camp, and of course, even this charge was dismissed after the evidence was ruled illegal.
Dean Barnes, officer in charge of exhibits at 2/2 Werahika Street which was Taame's home at the time took the stand next. His search found lots of camo pants, tops and hats, along with some bullets.
Mark Hannah in charge of the scene at the Tuhoe Hauora - Mission House was particularly unhelpful. He seemed oblivious to the fact that the place was a health care facility. Upon cross examination he said that there was a strong feeling there for 'separatism' (as he described it) and that he had noted 'anti-government' banners on the wall and yet, when asked if the people were antagonistic towards him as an agent of the state, he said no, they were very friendly and helpful.
Gerard Weavers, a scientist with the ESR (Forensic Lab) provided police evidence about the match between various bullets and various guns found during searches saying that the evidence 'strongly supports' a relationship between the two. Upon cross examination, his evidence was largely discredited as he admitted that a recent US Academy of Sciences report into Forensic practice notes that there it is not based on any measureable standardised points of comparison, there was no 'margin of error', it was opinion not based on a body of research into the reliability of this type of evidence.
The day concluded with Daniel Rosa who gave evidence about the search of 17 Ohotu Road in Ruatoki which is alleged to have been another residence for Taame. He will be cross examined tomorrow.
It seems the crown case is likely to be finished MOnday, and court may not sit at all on Friday due to a lack of police witnesses.
The police armourer is up tomorrow morning
Court report - Day 11 - 28 Feb 2012
The day started with threats from the crown for contempt of court for the court report yesterday. The crown claimed that the report breached the suppression order in relation to the soldier who gave evidence by identifying where he was deployed (the court report did not say where he was deployed) and other particulars that would allow him to be identified. The report did not mention his name, rank, place of deployment or even which branch of the armed services he belongs to. In fact New Zealand has troops deployed in 19 theatres of war right now so it is ridiculous to suggest that he was going to be identified by this report. Moreover, the justification for the suppression order in itself beggars belief since the soldier is already well identified on the NZDF website complete with a photograph.
The court report suggests that the crown's threats are based more in a desire to limits the public's right to know about how this case is being prosecuted - by flying witnesses from around the world when any number of people inside NZ could have quite ably answered the crown's case.
The day today was taken up with more cops. Eight to be precise.
John Matheson was subject to cross examination this morning. He had given evidence yesterday about scene examination he did at Whetu Road (alongside the Whakatane River) in October 2007. The cross examination focused on the age of the shell cartridges. He admitted that he simply handed over everything he found without any idea how old it might be. When asked if the shells could be 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years old, he said yes.
He was followed by Adam Eltham (again) who demonstrated his cop initiative in undertaking surveillance in his free time. Apparently with nothing better to do than to spy on other people, he flew an airplane over Ruatoki taking surveillance and scene photographs after the termination of Operation 8 on 15 October 2007. When he was cross examined, he reveled that he had gone on holiday to Wellington and also undertook surveillance of 128 Abel Smith St and Trades Hall where he took a photo of Peace Movement Aotearoa's sign. Later he admitted that he took photos of Emily collecting money at the annual Peace Movement appeal on Cuba Mall.
He was followed by John Fagan who was at the time with the Wellington Special Investigation Group. His evidence primarily related to the contents of Emily's backpack found at the Te Aro campsite in Wellington. Under cross examination, he admitted that he had surveilled and photographed Urs at a number of protests including a picket by the Service & Food Workers Union and anti-Iraq war demonstrations. He said that attending protests in civilian clothes was a regular practice of the Wellington SIG who then compiled dossiers on political activists. He went on to say that the 'police have lots of information on everyone' and described going to protests as 'intelligence grabbing' operations. Under further cross examination, he admitted that Emily had approached him while he was surveilling her in June 2007 at the Wellington Railway Station. Emily was there handing out pamphlets for the Save Happy Valley campaign to stop open-cast coal mining on the West Coast. She asked Fagan if he was working for Thompson and Clark - a private investigation firm headed by two ex-cops who make their business by spying for corporations on political activists.
He was followed by Craig Vining,another Wellington police officer. He was the officer-in-charge of exhibits at search of 128 Abel Smith Street and his evidence primarily dealt with searching a backpack allegedly belonging to Urs. Strangely upon cross examination, Vining could not remember and his notes did not reveal the contents of a giant black case attached to this backpack which contained of all things - a Clarinet! He was also shown an exhibit that he took on the day and described as a 'war document' - in fact it turned out to be a copy of Windy: Wellington's Independent Newspaper produced by the Indymedia collective.
Craig Cartwright followed. He was the officer in charge of exhibits at 117 Te Tawa Road in Ruatoki. For those not so intimately connected to the case, this is the house where a mother and her 3 kids were taken hostage in their own garage by the police and held with no food or water for 9 hours. Needless to say, under cross examination, Constable Cartwright couldn't remember any of that. Instead his evidence focused on walkie-talkies and a scanner found in the sleepout of the house, and ammunition found in the main house. The crown was keen to elicit the fact that copies of 'Armed Joy' and the 'Commando Survival guide' were found, while the defence was at pains to remind the witness that a huge pile of books was found including Support, a zine about how to support survivors of sexual abuse, and a host of guides to the bush, trees, insects, seaside of New Zealand.
Eamonn Whelan followed him and he finally admitted what no other cop would which was what the badge says on the hat they say is Emily's. The badge is a 'Louise Nicholas: I believe you' and up until now, no police officer admitted to knowing what the badge said. His primary evidence related to phone books and diaries said to be Emily's and including lots and lots of meeting dates.
The first female police officer Karen Hoshek (no longer a cop) gave evidence as Officer in Charge of exhibits at Tuhoe Lambert's house. While her evidence focused on finding cell phones, laptops and camo backpacks, Unfortunately, no one bothered to ask what she was doing while a 12-year old family member was having a gun held to her head outside.
Rion Blake finished the day. He gave evidence that he was the officer tasked with interviewing Rangi. And then he assisted with searching Tuhoe's house and Rangi's car. He was not cross examined.
Court finished a wee bit early. Back at 10am tomorrow.
Court report - Day 10 - Feb 27, 2012
This morning started with closed chambers - e.g. no public - in order that the crown could argue for name, image and any identifying details about the witness for the day. They won.
The witness is a NZ soldier who was flown from a theatre of war far far away specially to give evidence in this trial. We can be sure he wasn't flown over on Jetstar.
His evidence consisted of going through the video surveillance footage from the January, June, September and October wananga. In the video clips he was shown, he identified things that he deemed 'military' - for example the use of hand signals, or the use of patrolling techniques. He was shown specific clips by the prosecution. He did not watch the footage in its entirity.
His evidence was evenhanded, going so far as to 'cross examine' himself - pointing out the many things which were totally inconsistent with military techniques, and alluded to the footage which had no military context whatsoever.
His evidence took most of the day.
He was cross examined late in the afternoon by all 4 defence lawyers. He was asked a range of questions including was he aware of the sitaution of the NZSAS training rich businessmen from Direct Capital - and what he knew about this incident, he was asked about his time in East Timor, about the struggle of the East Timorese against the Indonesian army, about meeting Jose Ramos Horta, and how the struggle for independence was a struggle for people who had maintained their own identity through 400 years of colonisation. He was asked extensively about VIP protection training, asked about his knowledge of the use of this training, how much money could be earned working for a private security firm in overseas conflicts.
He said that he thought the video surveillance showed 'very rudimentary training' and that the people were 'dreaming' if they thought they were going to get work doing VIP protection with the skills they had.
He went on to say that it was impossible to know what the purpose or intent of the training was, and he couldn't deduce that just from the footage.
His evidence concluded with a few questions about the quality of the video footage, and he was very quick to point out that he could not draw firm conclusions from many things because there simply wasn't enough information.
After he finished, another cop, John Matheson, took the stand again. He bored the entire room describing photos of spent cartridge shells. His evidence continues tomorrow.
Court weekly round up - Week 2
The week ended blissfully early at 1pm. The crown case continued this morning with a number of police witnesses
Detective Lunjevich was cross examined first thing this morning concerning video footage from the October 2007 wananga. In particular, defence lawyers questioned the detective about the veracity of the footage and why were only certain people arrested despite the fact that a number of other people are clearly identifiable in the video footage. He was asked if he attends protests. He said that he had attended one - the US/NZ partnership in September 2007 in order to identify Urs. He said that as part of the SIG in Auckland, he did not normally attend protests. He said another unit dealt with 'issue motivated groups' - but he went on to say that the SIG (special investigation group) in Wellington and Christchurch were 'seperate entities' whose ambit was different than Auckland.
He was followed by John Matheson who gave evidence about exhibits found at Whetu Road in Ruatoki in October 2007. He was followed by Michael Stone of the Wellington CIB who was in charge of exhibits at Ira Bailey's house. He was followed by John Attwood of the Wellington CIB who gave evidence about exhibits at the camp site in Te Aro, Wellington. He detailed finding a .22 marlin rifle, along with a bread bag and a tent especially for a dog.
He was followed by a re-appearance of Detective Matheson who showed a video of the Whetu Road river scene in order to orient the jury. That was the end of the day.
The week was short due to a juror illness on Monday and Tuesday, and a short day today. Nevertheless, the nature of such trials is that they are boring and tiresome affairs. The crown's star witnesses - two young men who attended a wananga in January 2007 - were at least as helpful as harmful to the defence case. Their evidence did not implicate any of the defendants in any criminal activity whatsoever. The jury was shown several hours of video of footage from the September and October camps, but since it is not only not a cinematic masterpiece, but in fact is so boring that if you blink you miss it altogether most of the jurors tuned out. As a result the crown decided not to show all of the October footage for fear of killing the jury with boredom. The alleged 'molotov cocktail' footage shows nothing more than people randomly running across the screen in the bush from time to time. It is difficult to know how the crown can sustain such a charge. While both the September and October footage show a number of people carrying what appear to be firearms, it is actually hard to know if these are the defendants, or if they are firearms. In some cases, the people are trial are clearly not there.
Trial will end sooner than scheduled.
The crown has said that their case is likely to be finished in a week and a half. This is in stark contrast to their emphatic requirement for a 6 week prosecution case. The reality was the crown said a trial when there was 15 defendants was going to take 6 weeks - they maintained that a trial of only 4 people was going to take 6 weeks as well. This was a deliberate strategy of the crown to seriously disrupt people's lives and set the defence up to be unprepared.
If you would like to come support the defendants in Auckland and need a place to stay, please email us as the four would love to see lots of friendly faces in court. Email email@example.com
Court report - Day 8 - 23 Feb 2012
Detective Lunjevich finished his testimony relating to the September wananga and video surveillance.
The jury was shown footage of what was meant to be molotov cocktails,but from the public gallery it was impossible to discern anything other than a few people running at random times in different directions. It is hard to know what the jury makes of this footage.
He was followed by a brief of evidence from Officer M. Knight who uplifted video tapes from the Balmoral Caltex of Rongomai Bailey and Rangi.
His brief was read by consent of all.
He was followed by evidence of two more officers - Hall and Loughrin - who both simply followed Rangi around Auckland in October 2007. Curiously, the crown used the opportunity to introduce a whole bunch of text messages and Ao Cafe chat logs for which neither witness had any involvement. Neither police officer was able to verify the identity nor the content of the messages, nevertheless, they were taken through hours of Crown-led evidence in which the most sensational parts of messages were selected to be illustrated to the jury. While it is true that these text messages and chatroom logs will be introduced into evidence at some point, it did seem that the crown was using the opportunity in a sense to give evidence themselves of the parts they had indentified as the most damamging - leaving out anything that might cast a different light on the meaning of a particular message.
A detective Doocey from Wellington followed these men. His evidence centred around surveillance of 128 Abel Smith Street, following Urs and Emily up and down the north island, and a fateful trip to the Aro Fish Supply for an order of chips on the night of 14 October 2007 - the night before the nationwide raids.
A very severe police office Steven Dunn took the stand to explain exhibits relating to the search of Te Tawa Road in Ruatoki. This is meant to be the sight of a second wananga in October 2007. He was at a loss to explain where the site was, even in the most basic terms, to any of the defence lawyers, prefering only to answer questions about locating bullets and spent shells.
The day ended with the return of Jason Lunjevich to the stand to discuss video and gunshot audio surveillance relating to the October camp. He will be subject to cross examination tomorrow.
The crown has said that their case may end as soon as a week and a half from Monday as they are getting through their 70+ witnesses. They can see the fading interest of the jury, but being as they have already played their trump cards, it is hard to see how they will regain their interest.
Court resumes at 10am and will finish a little early.
Court report - day 7 - February 22, 2012
Court resumed this morning with the Crown's two *star* civilian witnesses - two young men who were boys when they attended a wananga in Ruatoki in January 2007.
The boys have name and image suppression.
Their testimony was about travelling to Ruatoki with their personal trainer who had been asked by Taame to give some food and exercise advice. The young men arrived in Taneatua and were taken by Taame into the bush. They were met at a roadblock and where they were frisked before being taken into to give their lessons. The discussion at the wananga focused around the benefits of meat vs vegetarianism.
Under cross examination, the boys admitted that while they were 'suprised' by the frisking at roadblock, the people apologised afterwards and the atmosphere was friendly and full of laughter. One said that they had seen 10-15 people, but only 4 guns.
One mentioned that there had been discussion about a Canadian logging corporation trespassing onto Tuhoe land. Neither boy said they knew what the reason for the camp was.
While the boys evidence was somewhat contradictory, overall they were hardly the damning evidence the crown was seeking. They said that they were doing their training to 'become better people' and that they were aware that Taame shared the goal of 'helping young Maori to a better way of living' with their trainer.
Other cross examination focused on the passage of time since they had originally attended the wananga, and the passage of time from the original 'terror' raids on 15 October 2007 and the time they were first spoken to by police in Feb 2008.
The next witness was a member of the Special Tactics and Auckland Armed Offenders Squad who has name and image suppression. His evidence focused on going in to Ruatoki in June 2007. He prepared a diagram of the marae at Taiarahia, and found a number of spent cartridge shells. He was at pains to tell the jury about a cabbage tree which had been felled by bullets, but admitted under cross examination that neither the shell casings or the tree had been examined by anyone to tell how long they had been like that.
Another police officer who has name and image suppression gave evidence in relation to the August 2007 camp. He followed people from 128 Abel Smith Street in Wellington to Palmerston North and then on to Turangi.
Detective Woodcock of the Wellington Special Investigation Group gave evidence about following Urs, Emily, Ira Bailey and antoher person around in August 2007. He admitted following people to Taupo and seeing them 'shopping' at Pak'n'Sav. Under cross examination, he was asked how many members of the Wellington SIG there are - four - Stella Howard, John Fagan, Mark Lewis and himself. He also admitted taking a 'strong interest in protests' that the people in the case were involved in, including a picket of cleaners.
Following Woodcock, a brief of evidence was read by consent of all. It simply discussed following Urs, Emily etc around Wellington in August 2007.
This was followed by another police officer with name and image suppression who also admitted observing one of the previous people charged in the case going into a 'Pak n Sav'.
Another member of the Special Tactics Group and AOS in Auckland took the stand and talked about how he posed as a jogger in the area by the river in Ruatoki in order to investigate the alleged site of the August wananga. He said he collected shell casings and took photos.
Under cross examination, he admitted that the area was effectively a rubbish dump, that the stove which forms a central part of the crown case (it has bullet holes and the outlines of a bunny rabbit and allegedly a human torso on the side) may have arrived in the area with the bullet holes in it - and well, the bunny and torso, too.
He also admitted that there were no obstacles or mentioned that it was private property on Whetu Road, that there were people playing on the bridge and swimming in the river, and that the cartridges were rusty and were not inspected by anybody who knew anything about such matters.
The final witness of the day was Detective Lunjevich from the Auckland Criminal Investigation Branch (SIG is part of this). He will be giving evidence for sometime yet. He arrived with a suitcase of his notes. He first gave evidence relating to August, but this was followed quickly by the crown's showing of the illegal video surveillance for September which took up the remainder of the afternoon.
Everybody in the court (with the crown and cops excluded) was bored to tears by the end of the day. The illegal video footage which is the centrepiece of the crown case shows a very small slice of these wananga. The crown's narrative is of course sinister, but there are so many inconsistencies in what they claim as fact. We can only hope that the jury sees through the BS of their allegations.
Court resumes at 10am tomorrow and will sit all day Friday (until 5pm due to the loss of M & Tues sittings).
Court report - Day 6 & 7 - 20 & 21 February 2012
Court week wrap up - Week 1
A juror was discharged due to a death in her family. There are now only 11 jurors.
The week ended with evidence from more cops. The morning started with Detective Adam Eltham who gave evidence about police exhibits, and about following Rangi around Auckland. He was followed by two Special Tactics Group cops. One gave evidence about covert trips to Taiarahia mountain in April and June 2007 to install illegal video and audio surveillance. Detective Eamonn Whelan who took over applying for illegal warrants at the end of Operation 8 took the stand briefly to discuss following Rangi around Auckland. Another Special Investigation Group cop known to threaten supporters of the defendants, Hamish MacDonald, took the stand to describe taking pictures of Rangi and waiting for people in Te Puke. Finally, John Matheson, another cop, talked about following Rawiri Iti around the greater Hamilton area. The day finished with the crown showing video and audio footage of the Ruatoki bush in June 2007.
The week has been a difficult and exhausting start to what will be a long journey. The first day was taken up almost entirely with jury selection. The start of the crown's case on day 2 - a 38 page opening statement complete with powerpoint presentation - was intended to be dramatic but was more fizz than bang with the relatively uninteresting illegal video footage as the centrepiece. The crown is prosecuting only 4 people but made clear that they intend to smear the names of anyone involved in Operation 8 (except the police whose criminal offending is already a matter of record). Day 2 and 3 were taken up with police witnesses including members of the Special Tactics and Armed Offenders Squad who were part of the invasion force on 15 October 2007 in Ruatoki. Their names and identities are suppressed so they can never be held to account for carrying out acts of terror against the people of Ruatoki in the name of the NZ State. We had a blessedly short day on Thursday due to illness and this allowed people to sort out their accommodation and lives for the coming days. The jury, too, seemed happy with a break from the tedium and idiocy represented by this trial.
Court report – Day 4 – 16 February 2012
The day began in chambers and after a lengthy pause, when the public was allowed in, it became known that one of the defendants, Urs, is sick. He has a medical certificate and did not have to appear in court today.
It was agreed however that one crown witness, former cop Kevin Wallace, could give evidence today. It was short and sweet. He said that he had been a police officer involved in Operation 8 and that he had followed a car from Auckland to White Pine Bush, near Whakatane. That in the car had been Rangi plus two others (who are not facing any charges).
Defence had no questions and therefore court was adjourned for the day until 10am tomorrow. As tomorrow is Friday, it's a short day – court will finish every Friday at 1pm.
Court report - Day 3 - 15 February 2012
How many trips had he made to Ruatoki when installing the surveillance equipment? (more than 25)
The cross examination continued with Jeremy Bioletti who asked about the field of view of the surveillance cameras which were installed.
Val Neibitt asked a number of questions including:
Myles Horsnell, now at Manakau police, took the stand next. His primary evidence related to following Rangi all around greater Auckland. There were no questions in cross examination except that one of the lawyers clarified that no responsibility for any text messages had been established so the crown couldn't say who had sent what to whom with any certainty.
Evidence was then given by two members of the Special Tactics Group and Armed Offender Squad. Both men have name and image suppression but were the same people as at depositions.
Their evidence related to trips into the bush to install motion detection cameras and sensors in the Tuhoe forest near the Paekoa track area in November 2006 and January 2007.
They were cross examined by Nick Taylor (for Rangi Kemara) who queried the location of sounds said to be gunfire, the type of bush in the area, the other noises in the area, the duration of gunfire and the claim that 'military style commands' had been heard.
One witness was asked where he was on 15 October 2007 and what he was wearing. He replied that he was dressed in black with a balaclava and later in military fatigues. He was in a helicopter flying around Ruatoki on that day.
The day finished with the police playing 18 minutes of video surveillance relating to the January wananga. The defendants are in good spirits, but at least one is suffering from a terrible head cold so perhaps court may be adjourned tomorrow if he isn't better.
Court report - Day 2 - February 14, 2012
Court started with the crown opening statement - 38 pages of police fantasy and crown fiction complete with a powerpoint - that lasted until the lunch break at 1pm.
In this narrative, crown prosecutor Ross Burns started out by saying that 'in this country we don't prosecute people for their political beliefs.' He then said that politics would be a big part of the case and formed the backdrop of it. He proceeded to lay out sensational parts of the crown case: video footage (illegally obtained), a 'scenario' document, some text messages and chat room logs, and lots of police and two "civilian" witnesses. He said that the four people on trial had the objective of committing 'serious and violent offences' - sabotage, kidnapping, etc - along with everyone else he subsequently identified in the footage who was also part of the criminal group. He effectively said that the possession of weapons by everyone was the responsibility of the four accused, irrespective of the fact that in some cases, they weren't even in the country!
The afternoon was taken up with defence opening statements from Russell Fairbrother (for Taame), Jeremy Bioletti (for Rangi), Christopher Stevenson (for Urs) and Val Neisbitt (for Emily). These were all succinct, as their statements are limited to raising issues arising from the crown's opening statement. Nevertheless, all gave compelling addresses asking the jury to remain open-minded, to consider the different worlds and contexts in operation in this country - te Ao Maori and te Ao Pakeha, to remember that facts actually need to be facts, not just assertions by the crown, and that at the end of it all, they are not guilty of any crimes.
The crown called their first witness, Detective Inspector Jago, who gave incredibly dry and boring evidence about the placement of illegal and unlawful police video cameras all over Te Urewera.
The jury (and public gallery) was dismissed at 3:30 in order that two applications could be discussed: a site visit to Ruatoki, and witness protection (from the media, e.g. pixellation).
Court resumes with cross-examination of Jago tomorrow at 10am.
Court report - Day 1 of the trial - 13 February 2012
The day has been taken up with jury selection. Rumours abounded that more than 900 people had been called for jury service today in order to find a jury of 12 who were available for the estimated 3 month trial and who were not familiar with the case.
Media applications were heard first thing, and a sizable media presence can be expected for the first and last parts of the trial.
Emily, Urs, Rangi and Taame reported to court and were taken into custody about 10am. It is expected that they will be bailed over lunch hour in the days to come, but today, they have been held pending the finalisation of the jury.
A large Tuhoe contingent coloured Waterloo Quadrant with flags and banners, and lots of local and overseas supporters were in attendance.
The jury was finalised about 4pm today (10 women and 2 men) and the judge then delivered a some basic information to them about who was who in the court, and how the trial would proceed. He said that his role was to deal with the legal matters, and the role of the jury was to deal with the factual matters.
A media application was heard at the end of the day after the crown prosecutor prompted members of the media to apply to have a copy of his powerpoint presentation that he will deliver tomorrow. This has been granted.
The trial is expected to start in earnest tomorrow with crown opening statements taking up most of the morning.
Trial - starting 13th February 2012
The trial of the remaining four defendants - Taame Iti, Emily Bailey, Rangi Kemara and Urs Signer - will start on 13th February 2012 in the Auckland High Court. They face a charge for being members of an 'organised criminal group' (Section 98A of the crimes act) and charges for possessing firearms and restricted weapons.
Numerous court hearings were held in the Auckland High Court, as well as the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in Wellington. The evidence challenge of the defendants were partially successful and in 2011, 13 defendants had their charges dropped.
Deposition Hearing September 2008
I arrived home today from the deposition hearing in Auckland: one month filled with long days at district courtroom 8 staring at 10 am, finishing at 5pm, day in and day out. Hearing in Courtroom 8Read more...
The deposition hearing will conclude tomorrow afternoon, just exactly when the Crown said it would. There will be one final defence submission, followed by a Crown response, and possibly a brief bail argument. Read more...
The last five days of the depositions hearing has been endless, mysterious, boring, interspersed with nano-seconds of excitement. Unfortunately the suppression orders still stand so I can’t tell you about the nano-statements of excitement. Read more...
The Dominion Post editor has been summoned to Auckland to answer contempt of court charge in the Operation 8 case. Read more...
Operation 8 defendant Watene McClutchie was arrested by police outside Auckland Distrcit Court and his partner was assaulted by police. Read more...
The depositions hearing has brought together some of the people who have been affected by the raids. To spend more time with people who went through the same things, last October and November, has made us stronger. Read more...
Outside of court the week ended with a bang. One of the kids turned six and so over lunch there was a birthday party outside courtroom 8. We had a cake, candles and party hats. The registrar (he who pronounces Tame to rhyme with 'same') muttered that there was no dignity in this court room. I'd say there was a lot of dignity in that court room - but not the sort the registrar would recognise. Read more...
The Crown Prosecutor is called Mr Burns. I think I would take more pleasure in this, if he was balder and had a long thin nose. He’s more smarmy, for some reason he reminds me of Grant Robertson (the labour candidate for Wellington central), even though there’s not much of a physical resemblance, and I’ve never met Grant Robertson.
The Auckland District Courtroom 8 hearings vis-à-vis Operation 8 proceeded apace through the fourth day. After the protracted reading of the charges in both English and Maori—generously permitted by the judge—the Crown Prosecutor took the stage with his opening overview.
The charges against the last four defendants were read on Wednesday morning, and only took a few hours. The first good news of a day was that the crown agreed to a variation of bail that the crown agreed to. For the duration of the hearing, the defendants don’t need to report to the police station and they will be able to associate during the trial.
The only court business that happened on Tuesday was the reading of 7 more people’s charges. Four of those charges were also read in Te Reo Maori. By the end of the day the names, dates, and legalese had all slipped together into a strange drone, both in English and in Maori.
The court room we were assigned to had four rows of seats with six seats on each side. Theoretically forty eight people could fit in the court. But the third row of seats had restricted tape across them, as if it had been the scene of the crime, and signs say ‘No Seating’.
Legal Update: results from High Court
Monday, 25 August On Friday in the Auckland High Court there was a great victory for the accused. The High Court search warrants which had not been disclosed to the accused will be disclosed this week. This will allow the defendants to see the original applications for interception warrants under the Terrorism Suppression Act. This is an important and substantial victory for the accused in the case. Although some details such as informant information will continue to be withheld, the disclosure will add significantly to the understanding of the police case. In the other High Court hearing that day, the application for a variation of bail to allow for association between Valerie Morse and Emily Bailey was frustrated. The High Court judge said he did not have jurisdiction to rule in the case. He has sent the defendants back to the Auckland District Court with a strongly worded instruction that the bail should be varied. This decision seems extraordinary given that the original bail condition was imposed by the Auckland High Court. When the two defendants attempted to get the condition changed in the Auckland District Court in March of this year, they were told that the judge did not have jurisdiction to overturn a High Court ruling. He sent them back to the High Court. The crown agreed to a high court hearing in Wellington, during which the judge said he did not have jurisdiction and sent the accused back to Auckland High Court. Now that Court has said it doesn’t have jurisdiction! The whole process is an absurd circus. Some of the lawyers have indicated that further charges are likely to be laid against some of the accused this week. More details will be posted if this comes to pass.
Legal update: lead up to the deposition hearing in Auckland
There are a few things happening in the High Court in Auckland on 22 August. There have been applications filed by several defendants regarding the police affidavit that was used to gain search and interception warrants. This is likely to be held ‘in chambers’ and thus not open to the public. Second, the High Court will hear an application for bail variation for Valerie Morse and Emily Bailey that would allow them to associate. As it stands, Valerie and Emily have limited association as consented to by the Crown. They are seeking a removal of any restriction on association.
We understand that other defendants have had variations to bail. We would be keen to let folks know what conditions you are still facing, or changes that have happened (or failed). You can email us at info@October15thSolidarity.info if you are comfortable having those details published.
The deposition hearing has been set down to start 1 September and will sit until 11 September. There will be a recess for one week. Court will resume on Monday, 22 September and run until 3 October (unless it finishes early).
All but one of the 20 defendants are due to have a depositions hearing starting on 1 September in the Auckland District Court. This hearing is effectively a preliminary step in which the Crown must prove that it has a ‘prima facie’ case (literally a case ‘on the face of it’) against each of the accused. There will be the presentation of evidence to determine whether the defendant has a case to answer before a jury. There is a low threshold to prove a ‘prima facie’ case - A prima facie case is one that at first glance presents sufficient evidence for the plaintiff (the Crown) to win. Following this, defendants will be committed to trial by jury. This will likely happen in mid- to late 2009.
During the depositions, the defendants can call any of the Crown’s witnesses. This will be their opportunity to see the extent of the case against them and get clarification on various matters and statements. All of the arrestees have been excused from attending this hearing as long as they have legal representation. However, the October 15th Solidarity support crew is urging arrestees and whānau to attend at least the first week to get a clear idea of what is happening.
Legal update March 5th appearance
There were a number of minor victories during the 5 March appearance in Auckland District Court, and some further clarification about the Crown case against the now 19 accused.
First, a number of the accused applied for variations of their bail conditions. These variations included the elimination of oppressive curfews, reduction in the number of times a week they have to report to the police station, and dropping of the non-association orders that exist between most of the accused (except in particular circumstances relating to work). Most of these applications were successful; however, the Crown is very keen to continue to punish many of the defendants by refusing to consent to dropping all of the non-association orders, despite little in the way of evidence to support them. In the small town of Ruatoki, it requires a major logistical operation for some of the defendants to even go to the local grocery store as a result of these orders. Moreover, the reporting condition is a significant financial hardship for several defendants who have to travel to the police station in Whakatane, a round-trip costing about $40. Tame Iti will be applying to have his passport returned in order that he can do some work in Japan over the next month. Others may follow suit with other variations in the next few weeks. Overall, we will continue to ‘chip away’ at the conditions, with the aim of having them all removed by the time of depositions hearing.
Second, the deposition hearing has now been set for the entire month of September in Auckland. During this hearing, the Crown will need to prove that there is a ‘prima facia’ case, e.g. literally the expression means ‘on the face of it’: so in other words, the police usually have to prove that there is some evidence, and the threshold is quite low for this.
Third, several other orders were made in the court with important implications for the case. First, Annette Sykes requested that all intercepted conversations in Te Reo Maori be properly translated into English in order that all of the lawyers and defendants can have access to them. As part of this request, the Crown noted that no intercepted conversations would be used in evidence. As all of this material was obtained under Terrorism Suppression Act warrants, it is inadmissible in these proceedings. Secondly, the Court ordered that the Crown have all ‘briefs of evidence’ signed and ready by 5 July. Evidence in the Criminal Court is presented by way of Briefs of Evidence by the prosecution but when the witnesses actually come to give evidence they cannot read out their Brief of Evidence but must answer individual questions from the Crown Solicitor.
The defendants have been excused from the next ‘call-over’ on 18 April when several further applications will be lodged by counsel for the defence. The next scheduled appearance for defendants will be 1 September, pending any interim decision from the Auckland district court.
The fight for bail...
After the raids and the arrests on October 15th 2007, a four-week legal battle began for bail. In the first four weeks, all 16 arrestees were steadily moved from prisons around the country to two Auckland prisons, to make prosecutions more convenient for the Police. This meant moving them away from their whanau (family) and friends, from their support networks. Four prisoners were granted bail in the two weeks following the raids, and then on November 1st and 2nd, all 16 arrestees were to be heard in one court for the first time, in Auckland. Just prior to the hearings, the Police announced they would apply to the Solicitor-General to lay terrorism charges against 12 of the 16 arrestees. During the two days of hearings, two more prisoners were granted bail, leaving just 10 of the 16 in prison – two women and eight men.
On November 8th, the Solicitor-General, David Collins, announced he would not give permission for Terrorism Suppression Act charges to be laid due to insufficient evidence. The next day, 6 arrestees were granted bail due to the change in circumstances, and 3 days later, after 4 weeks in jail, the last of the arrestees were released.
...name and image suppression...
The lawyers of the arrestees argued in the court that image and name suppression are of immense importance in this trial. However, most people lost name suppression after a few weeks and image suppression in December (although most still have image suppression until an appeal is heard).
...and the dismissal of the charges!
The police leaked a lot of 'evidence' to the media and one media organisation decided to publish excerpts on their front page. The arrestees' lawyers prepared applications for a stay to the Solicitor-General to get the charges thrown out. However, the application for a stay of proceedings was declined by the Solicitor-General David Collins on 19th February 2008.
The current charges
19 people are charged under the Arms Act and one person was charged with possession of cannabis. At no point was anybody charged under the Terrorism Suppression Act (2002). However, the police applied to the Solicitor-General for permission to charge 12 people under that act.
What will happen on 5th March 2008?
On 5th March 2008, a one-day hearing will take place in the Auckland District Court (10am). Bail conditions and suppression orders (for image and name suppression) will be discussed for each defendant. A date for a further court appearance will be set. The case could either be heard again in a few months for another one-day pre-deposition hearing or a deposition hearing could be scheduled. The deposition hearing could take several weeks. It will be followed by the trial, which could take months given the large amount of 'evidence'.