Friday, October 15, 2010

The long arm of the law

A today in history post at HP brings the anniversary below. An anniversary reminding the government that the matter of these terrorists still has not been resolved three years on. And looks likely to never happen. When are the required law changes going to happen Mr Power-Lust?

'Anti-terror' raids in Urewera

Citing the Terrorism Suppression Act, police arrested 18 people in nationwide raids linked to alleged weapons-training camps in the Urewera mountain ranges, near the township of Ruatoki in eastern Bay of Plenty.

In addition to raids in Ruatoki and nearby Whakatane, search warrants were also executed in Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston North and Hamilton. The raids followed 12 months of police surveillance of activist groups ranging from environmentalists to Maori separatists. Around 300 police, including members of the Armed Offenders and anti-terror squads, were involved in the raids. They seized a small number of guns and 230 rounds of ammunition.

Among those arrested was veteran Tuhoe activist Tame Iti. Police claimed Iti was involved in running military-styled training camps in the Urewera Ranges and was planning a guerrilla war to establish an independent state on traditional Tuhoe land. The Solicitor-General subsequently decided that there was insufficient evidence to lay charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act, although 16 people faced weapons charges.

Those arrested were released on bail within a month of their arrest. Depositions hearings to determine whether they should stand trial did not begin until September 2008. On 17 October Judge Perkins ruled that all but one of those arrested in the raids be committed to trial on various firearms, weapons and explosives charges. The accused were remanded on bail to appear back in court in February 2009, indicating a lengthy legal process to determine the outcome of these raids.

The Urewera's had experienced similar police action before. In April 1916 a large force of heavily armed constables was sent to arrest the Tuhoe leader Rua Kenana. Shooting broke out and two Maori, including Rua's son, were killed. Rua's trial in the Supreme Court was one of the longest in New Zealand's legal history. He was found not guilty of sedition, but guilty of resisting arrest and sentenced to one year's hard labour, followed by 18 months’ imprisonment. The presiding officer, Judge Chapman, commented that Maori needed to learn that the law "reached every corner" of the land. Eight members of the jury later publicly protested the harshness of this sentence.

Can we expect any action on these terrorists? I suspect not, as the separatists are NACTional's best friends at present.

Unfortunately, there remain some that need to be forcefully reminded that the law does indeed reach into the furthest corners of this land.

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