Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Victory for the Urewera 18!

The Herald reports that following a Supreme Court judgement ruling certain evidence inadmissible, all firearms charges against the Urewera 18 have been dropped. However, four of them - Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhira Kemara, Emily Bailey and Urs Signer - are still facing charges of "participating in an organised criminal group". Given that the decision to refuse a jury trial was primarily based on the logistical considerations of an 18-person trial, then it seems like that we'll see a backdown on that front too.

I haven't seen the judgement yet (and it may be is suppressed to protect the fair trial rights of the remaining accused). But the issues it deals with are surveyed in the Supreme Court's judgement granting leave to appeal, here [PDF]. Basically, whether surveillance evidence was lawfully obtained, and if not lawfully obtained, whether its exclusion would be disproportionate to the wrongdoing. Given the split decision on charging, they may have decided "yes" to the former, and that exclusion was disproportionate to some offences but not others. But don't take my word for it - wait for the judgement).

So, four years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and several ruined lives on, the police's big terrorism case has disintegrated. It may even result in a BORA case seeking compensation for unlawful search and seizure. All told, a pretty big defeat for the police. But that's what happens when you charge in like stormtroopers, without proper respect for the law or human rights.