From October 15th: ‘We consider the inability of the jury to make a decision on Count 1 in the Urewera case a victory. The inability of the jury to make a decision on Count 1 in the Urewera case is evidence that the crown’s story doesn’t stack up. We have always said that this charge was laid specifically in order that the crown could use evidence it knew was illegal in order to secure convictions on firearms charges. It is a stitch up from start to finish’ said Valerie Morse from the October 15th Solidarity group.
‘The Supreme Court’s decision in September last year stated unequivocally that the evidence was illegal. It couldn’t be used against those charged only under the Arms Act. For the five who were charged under section 98A – Participation in an organised criminal group, the evidence was admissible, despite it being illegal. This charge should never have been allowed.’
‘Operation 8 was a multimillion dollar police operation designed to harass Tuhoe and political activists. After six years, the crown has secured a few firearms convictions based on illegal evidence. This whole episode reveals the sad face of a racist country determined to quash Maori aspirations for sovereignty.’
From the Herald: The “Urewera Four” have been found guilty of some firearms charges but the jurors were not able to reach a decision on the lead charge of belonging to an organised criminal group.
The public gallery, which has been full since the first day of the trial six weeks ago stood as the various charges were read out and the juror forewoman read out the verdicts.
Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara was found guilty of six firearms charges and not guilty of four. Urs Signer was found guilty of five firearms charges and not guilty of five. Emily Bailey was found guilty of six firearms charges and not guilty of four.
The four had been accused of being involved in military-style training camps after police raids in Ruatoki, Auckland and Wellington four years ago.
The jury forewoman said the jurors could not reach a verdict on the lead charge of belonging to an organised criminal group.
All four of the accused have been granted bail. However the legal arguments can not be reported because they were discussed in chambers.
Crown prosecutor Ross Burns said the Crown will consider a retrial on the lead charge of belonging to an organised criminal group, which the jurors could not reach a decision on.
“Ordinarily the Crown would proceed to a retrial but it will have to consider it carefully in this case.”
Tame Iti’s lawyer Russell Fairbrother said his client maintains he has done nothing wrong.
Asked about a possible retrial on the charge of belonging to an organised criminal group, Mr Fairbrother said Iti was a patient man. “He’ll wait 100 years to get this right.”
But he added that his client was pleased with the outcome of the trial.
“It’s always been a very socially and politically divisive allegation, and I think Tame is pleased with the way the defence has gone and the work that the jury’s done.”
Mr Fairbrother doubted it would proceed to a retrial.
“I can’t see the Crown evidence getting any better. That jury has worked very hard, they’ve concentrated right throughout this trial, they’ve obviously considered each charge separately and they couldn’t reach a verdict.”
Mr Fairbrother felt the trial would go down as “at least a footnote in history”.
“What Tuhoe do is very much their business, and I think we’ve got to stop judging other people by our understandings. This is a country with many, many diverse cultures and many, many ranges of people and we should be able to go about our lawful business,” he said.
Emily Bailey’s lawyer Val Nisbet said the first count was “always going to be a challenge for any jury, and it will remain so.”
He said defence lawyers were not aware of whether or not there would be a retrial but that was a decision for the Crown.
“We all hope there isn’t a retrial because this has gone on enough, not only for the accused but the whole country. It needs to be put to bed,” he said.
Urs Signer’s lawyer Chris Stevenson said he would not comment because of the possibility of a retrial.
The matter will be sent to an Auckland High Court callover date next month.
The four will be sentenced on firearms charges in May.
Kemara’s lawyer Jeremy Bioletti said he was “rapt” by the result.
He said the participating in an organised criminal group charge was a “defacto terrrorism allegation” which the Crown had failed to substantiate.
“And the firearms charges were only every a holding charge that were laid when these people were first charged in October 2007 so I’m very happy with the result.”
Mr Bioletti said he would be opposing any retrial, but if it came to that “it doesn’t faze me”.
“(The belonging to an organised criminal group charge) is so nebulous that anybody can potentially be guilty of anything,” he said.