"On the eve of the appeal to the Supreme Court on the admissibility of police evidence in the 'Urewera 18' case, Wikileaks have released a cable which says the New Zealand Police told the US Embassy in Wellington that they expected those accused would only get a fine rather than jail time should they be convicted," said Global Peace and Justice Auckland spokesperson Mike Treen.
It's been a stitch up from the start - and now the state prosecution has created further delays in the case. It appears that after 4 years the start of the hearing, due to begin this month, will be delayed a further year...
The implications of the delays may lead to the prosecution claiming that they do not have a case and will therefore drop the charges. If this is the case the facts and information leading to the raids may never be revealed.
The prosecution has created other delays including charging the remaining defendents with being members of a criminal gang - a charge that has been considered too difficult for a Jury to hear. The only other charges are related to firearms.
The 15 people charged after police raids in the Urewera Ranges and elsewhere in October 2007 have been granted leave to appeal High Court and Appeal Court decisions that a judge alone hear their trial.
The Supreme Court released its ruling today allowing the group to argue for a trial by jury, which will be heard in the Supreme Court.
The court suppressed any reporting of the arguments made in the two-day hearing held in Wellington, which finished on Wednesday.
The first trial of the 15 people accused of various charges, including having arms and taking part in an organised criminal group, was due to be held before a judge alone at the High Court in Auckland on May 30.
The trial was expected to last up to three months.
December 2, 2007
- What information led the police to smash the Urewera 'terrorist' training camps? Nicky Hager investigates the intelligence trail which led from cafe conversations to the armed police response.
Two years ago a man quite similar to central characters in the Urewera "terrorism" case purchased a pistol holster on TradeMe for $66. Officers at the Otahuhu police intelligence centre which later led the Urewera investigation noticed the TradeMe sale and prepared an affidavit saying they "believed"' the suspect had bought the holster because he had a pistol and "intends to use the pistol to overthrow the New Zealand government".
A court granted a search warrant on the basis of these allegations and armed police raided the man's home. No pistol was found, no charges resulted and the New Zealand government was in no risk of being overthrown. The man has a reputation for extreme-sounding public statements but the moral of the story is that a "worst case scenario" affidavit can be exaggerated and unrealistic.
Some of the people at the centre of the Urewera "terrorist" case are also well known for extravagant rhetoric. It was their inflammatory talk of "war" and other disturbing statements, as leaked to the media from the police affidavit, that formed the basis of the terrorism charges.