Appeal denied in Urewera case

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Serious miscarriage of justice allowed in Urewera case as Supreme Court says NO to further appeal.

The Supreme Court has today refused to hear the appeal of the four people convicted of firearms charges in relation to the 2007 police raids around the country. The four people - Rangi Kemara, Urs Signer, Emily Bailey and Tame Iti - endured a six week long trial in Auckland last year where the jury was hung on the substantive charge of 'participation in an organised criminal group.' The four were convicted on a handful of firearms charges relating to legal possession.

The decision of the Supreme Court represents a serious miscarriage of justice. The four were tried using illegally obtained video footage acquired by the police by trespassing on Tuhoe land and planting cameras. This same evidence was unable to be used against the other 13 co-accused because those 13 only faced firearms charges. By contrast, the four faced the one additional 'criminal group' charge.

So if it weren't for this charge, the whole case would have collapsed. This charge was contrived by the crown to bring the case to trial. At the 2008 Fairfax Media contempt trial (a trial against the Dominion Post for publishing intercepted communications in the case) more than a year after the arrests, the lead prosecutor in the case admitted to the court that they were contriving to dream up some more charges for the arrestees as the initial terrorism charge utterly failed. A month after the Fairfax hearing, sure enough, the same prosecutor charged five people with the 'organised criminal group' charge. One of the arrestees, Tuhoe Lambert, died from stress a year before the trial, unable to ever clear his name or defend himself in court.

The 'organised criminal group' law has been heavily criticised by the lawyers internationally as a sloppy law that allows prosecution absent any actual actus reus criminal act or even the plan of a criminal act. Essentially just talking about a criminal act among people is enough to constitute a crime. The whole notion of an 'objective' held by the 'group' within the charge has no definition or limitation that means at the end of the day any aspiration or vaguely expressed goal suffices for prosecution.

The Supreme Court has made a serious error and is allowing a grave miscarriage of justice to happen. It is a miscarriage of justice not only because the technical legal basis of the prosecution is wrong, but because the whole operation was a racist operation from start to finish.

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I didn't necessarily expect the Supreme Court to find in their favour, but I'm very surprised they refused to hear the case. So if the Supreme Court is the final option within the NZ court system for appeals for those charged after the raids, what happens now? Is it finally time to put Operation 8 on trial?

Is it time for those kidnapped and traumatized on Oct 15 but not arrested or charged to take their case to the Human Rights Commission? Should we be demanding a full public inquiry into Operation 8? Is there an Ombudsmen who can investigate the behaviour of everyone involved in planning, approving, and running the Operation 8?

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