Minto outraged at Urewera jail terms
Thu, 24 May 2012 5:02p.m.
A supporter of the Urewera Four says sentencing two of them to jail terms is an outrageous outcome.
Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara were jailed for two and a half years for unlawful possession of firearms in relation to military-style camps in the Ureweras in 2006 and 2007.
Urs Signer and Emily Bailey's sentencing has been adjourned for consideration of a likely home detention address.
Justice Hansen said suggestions the camps were about security training or bushcraft were "utterly implausible", and that a private militia was effectively being established.
The jury could not reach a decision on whether they participated in an organised criminal group.
Veteran protester John Minto said the judge had "ignored the defence case and the jury decision, and come out with an outrageous outcome".
Mr Minto said the State "overreacted to a situation that should have been resolved over a cup of tea at Tame Iti's house five years ago".
Omar Hamed, one of 13 others originally facing firearms charges over the camps before they were dropped by the crown after a Supreme Court ruling, said a jail sentence meant the country now had political prisoners.
"They're not Al Qaeda, they're not Osama bin Laden. We have jailed a mental health worker from Ruatoki for using firearms on Maori land."
Iti's son Wairere Iti, with a son and daughter by his side, said he was proud of his father and would never change him.
He said the camps were a type of bushcraft training which Tuhoe engaged in.
"Maybe there's the odd dog that isn't licensed, the same as there is with gun licences. It doesn't mean that they're trying to take down the Government."
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