Jail for Urewera pair
Thu, 24 May 2012 12:02p.m.
By 3 News online staff
Tame Iti and Rangi Kemara of the 'Urewera Four' have been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, while the police have apologised for scaring innocent Ruatoki people.
Justice Rodney Hansen sentenced the pair in the Auckland High Court this morning.
Sentencing for Urs Signer and Emily Bailey has been adjourned until June 21 while a home detention report is prepared. The pair have been given bail in the meantime.
They were convicted after the Crown showed hidden camera footage at their trial showing a number of people taking part in military-style camps with firearms and Molotov cocktails.
The judge told the High Court that the offending of the Urewera Four was premeditated and planned, and that jail was inevitable.
The four faced multiple charges of unlawfully possessing firearms and explosives.
Justice Hansen said Iti was the main organiser, and that Kemara, who purchased weapons, could be considered his lieutenant.
“This was not a one-off incident which commonly confronts the court, nor was it opportunistic. The offending was characterised by premeditation and planning. There were multiple weapons involved.
“The intention was to train participants with the potential to operate for paramilitary operations. Although there were elements of Dad's Army, the intentions were serious.”
The sentences for Bailey and Signer – 18 months' imprisonment, to be reduced to nine months' home detention if suitable addresses can be found – reflect that they were followers and not leaders, Justice Hansen said.
Crown lawyer Ross Burns sought lengthy jail terms for all four accused, saying they had been teaching skills to others to equip them to commit serious violent offences.
The accused claimed that the camps were intended to teach participants bush craft skills and to train them for the security industry in New Zealand and overseas.
But the judge told the court: “In my view they were utterly implausible.”
Lawyers for the accused sought discharges without conviction, with Iti's lawyer Russell Fairbrother saying the verdicts "only leaves one curious as to what was happening, but doesn't establish anything sinister".
Iti and Kemara, supported by people in the public gallery, chanted a haka as they were led away.
Police have said sorry if innocent people were frightened when armed officers descended on the Bay of Plenty town of Ruatoki, but they will not apologise for the investigation itself.
Police Commissioner Peter Marshall said when information came to light about serious criminal activity in the Urewera forest, police did their job by bringing it to a close.
"We had no option but to act in the interests of public safety.
"However, I'm very sorry that innocent individuals, families and a community, were frightened and inconvenienced when search warrants were executed in October 2007."
The investigation had focused on a group of individuals from different backgrounds and was not aimed at any iwi, he said.
"I make absolutely no apology for the investigation, the arrests and the prosecution of those involved. I fully support staff who carried out the inquiry."
3 News / NZN
24/05/2012 12:40:54 p.m.
You know, it seems to me that people like Tama Iti describe themselves as men of mana, men with the courage, integrity and selfless motivation to help their people out of "oppression" and fight for the rights of the Maori people. They purport to have a high degree of principle, morals and strength to be leaders of their people, and fight for their sovereignty. If this is the case, why do they lie, deceive and deny their blatant actions when confronted about them? "Just training for security industry"? Where is your courage to stand up and say what your "honorable" intentions really were? Where is your mana now? Instead you try and hide away from judgment, hide away from the reality that in fact although your cause is one you should maintain, your actions are wrong - and always have been.
24/05/2012 12:26:35 p.m.
So s30 of the Evidence Act saves the cops again ... it was a bogus charge initially, designed to push illegally obtained evidence before the court ... Rule of Law ... whatever!
So the judge in sentencing has effectively ignored the finding of the jury (and the subsequent withdrawing of the "terrorist" charges) to sentence these men as if they were found guilty of that charge. Try to find a single other person sitting in prison (out of the 8000 or so) who is there purely for firing guns in the bush. Bizarre. And wrong.
24/05/2012 12:22:21 p.m.
local kiwi wrote:
sensible decision guns and this sort of carryon apart from costing the long-suffering taxpayers more money is something that as NZers we should monitor
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