Monday, October 15, 2007

Raids II

More information on this morning's "anti-terror" raids: the police appear to have been concerned about a paramilitary group operating "training camps" and providing firearms training. Some of those involved were reportedly planning serious crimes, and others had illegal firearms. This is bad stuff, and the sort of thing people should be prosecuted for. However, the raids seem to have gone rather broader than that. Police raided the 128 community house in Wellington (video) as well as another activist centre in Auckland, and have apparently arrested a student activist and several people from Open Rescue (who rescue chickens from battery farms). The Stuff piece notes that

More than 60 other people from around the country who have been recorded talking to, and in some cases training with, the arrested group will also be brought in for questioning.
So most of the activists probably fall into that category. Network with a core suspect on an unrelated project, get arrested and smeared by the media as a "terrorist". Lovely.

Scoop has video of Howard Broad's press conferance here. It's long, but he notes that there is no international aspect - this is purely a domestic group - and that not everyone attending the camps would necessarily have committed an offence. To expand on that, it's not an offence to dress up in camo and blow holes in things with guns (provided you have a firearms licence, the guns are legally owned, and it is done safely etc). It is an offence to do so as preperation to commit a crime of violence such as murder (or rather, it would help prove a conspiracy case) - so a lot will depend on what the police can prove about intent. Since they've apparently been tapping phones, they might have some actual evidence there which goes beyond mere mouthing off.

As for the Terrorism Suppression Act, the most likely offences would be recruiting members of or participating in a terrorist group. But as the group here is undesignated, the police would need to prove that it was a group that carried out terrorist acts, which could be difficult as none have actually been committed yet. Evidence of real planning would help here, but if they don't have that, then all they'll have are firearms offences and a very large headache.

(Note for international readers: this seems to have nothing to do with George Bush's "war on terror", and we're quite happy not to be a part of it, thankyouverymuch).

Update: Suddenly got paranoid about name suppression.