Thursday, May 24, 2012


Two of the Urewera 4 have been sentenced - Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara to two and a half years' imprisonment. Urs Signer and Emily Bailey's sentencing has been adjourned pending a hearing on home detention, but the signal is that they will get something on the order of six months.

The fact that the obviously Maori defendants have received the harshest sentences, despite being convicted on identical charges to Bailey, is I'm sure pure coincidence. Or maybe I've just missed the part of the Sentencing Act where it says that brown skin moko is an aggravating factor.

Meanwhile, the judge in his sentencing comments said that "A private militia was being established". Which suggests strongly that the defendants are being sentenced for a crime they were not convicted of. The jury rejected these fantasies; the judge should do likewise.

There will no doubt be an appeal. In the meantime, the obvious discrepancy in the sentences, and apparent punishment for an unproven crime will undermine the perceived fairness of the sentences, and of the justice system itself.

Update: Yes, Bailey is Maori. At the same time, there's a pretty obvious difference in appearance here, and its one which plays to common prejudices. I've corected the post to make it clearer where I think the problem lies.