Monday, March 31, 2014

A bad way to handle it

Back in 1994, 17-year-old gang associate Teina Pora was arrested and convicted of a particularly nasty rape and murder. DNA evidence subsequently showed that the crime was in fact committed by serial rapist Malcolm Rewa, but thanks to a bit of bribery by police Pora's conviction was upheld. As a result, Pora has spent 20 years in jail for a crime he did not commit, repeatedly denied parole because he has continued to maintain his innocence.

Pora's case is finally going before the Privy Council (probably the last case to go there), and our system is apparently incapable of handling it. On Friday he was denied bail for the appeal, apparently because our courts lack the power to grant it (which is an omission you think they would have considered over the 150 year reign of the foreign appeals system). But now he's been granted parole after all. No matter what you think of the case, this is a really shitty way of handling it; it is obviously in the interests of justice that Pora be freed pending appeal, but this looks like they're using the parole system as a substitute for the failure of the courts. Which raises the question of why our courts can't serve the interests of justice in this case.

The only positive news is that with the demise of foreign appeals, this mess is unlikely to happen again. And its ironic that what is likely to be the final case has exposed such a fundamental weakness in the foreign appeals system. And it provides yet another argument for the repatriation of our courts.