Four of the accused, including Tame Iti, will still stand trial on charges of participating in an organised crime group.
The Supreme Court has ruled certain evidence inadmissable at the so-called “terror raid” trial of next year which was set to last for three months.
The groundbreaking decision over-ruled previous judgments from the High Court and Court of Appeal over whether the Crown could use evidence gathered in the covert police operation before the arrests in October 2007.
The Crown has now dropped the Operation Eight prosecution, according to a statement just released by the Auckland Crown Solicitor, Simon Moore SC.
Fifteen of the “Urewera 18” accused faced firearms charges and four of them including Tuhoe activist Tame Iti faced charges of participating in an organised criminal group.
That trial of Iti, Te Rangikaiwhira Kemara, Emily Bailey and Urs Signer will still go ahead.
Three other defendants also faced firearms charges but their trial was “severed” to be conducted separately. Neither trial will go ahead now.
The early-morning raids in October 2007 involved more than 300 officers in property searches in Auckland, Waikato, the Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Christchurch using warrants alleging crimes under the Terrorism Suppression Act.
The Solicitor-General subsequently ruled out charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act _ saying the law was “almost impossible to apply in a coherent manner” _ but firearms charges still remain.
The case has dragged out for nearly four years and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.