(IndyMedia.org.nz | October 15th Solidarity Group) “It started with a bang and that was all,” said Ana Cocker, October 15th Solidarity spokesperson. “It fizzed out quickly into only little bits of evidence that Crown Prosecutor Ross Burns presented in highly emotive language.”
“It was high theatrics and Ross Burns played to the jury and media,” she said. “But people can see through it.”
“Four and a half years ago the camps had been highly dangerous because they were hidden deep in the bushes of te Urewera. Yesterday they were dangerous because they were held close to Ruatoki. The Crown said they were held close to a marae, to a school, to a road. They were even held in a paddock,” said Ms Cocker. “They were dangerous because they were too public.”
“The Crown is already adapting its stories. Ross Burn’s presentation of the crown case shows how so-called evidence can be twisted and presented in different lights. But we are confident that the jury and the public will see through the charade.”
Yesterday was the first day of evidence against the so-called ‘Urewera 4′ – the last four people still facing charges from ‘Operation Eight’. That was the failed police operation to charge 12 people under the Terrorism Suppression Act. Originally the four were part of a group of 17, all charged under the Arms Act. Then a year after their arrests, these four and one other (who died in July last year), were also charged with ‘Participation in an Organised Criminal Group’, an offence under the Crimes Act. Charges against the other defendants were all dropped.
“On the street, people are saying when will the circus be ended,” Ms Cocker said. “People are amazed that this is still going on.”
The case has cost millions of dollars. The Crown’s case, presented yesterday morning, was the culmination of approximately two years of close, and often illegal, surveillance. It cost approximately $8 million dollars. The best of the evidence was illegally obtained choppy video images of some people wearing balaclavas, or scarves, and some with camouflage clothing and or guns, walking through bush and paddocks. Ross Burns highlighted these people with his red laser.
“He did not however,” said Ms Cocker, “focus on the people without balaclavas, without masks, without camouflage clothing and without guns. He was ominously quiet then.”
“He played two sound chunks of gun fire, he did not however play the many hours of silence.”
“He pointed out in the video images a lot of people who are not facing any charges. He named and pointed out some of the 13 people who have had all the charges dropped against them. He even pointed out one of these people in the court, pointing them out to the jury and naming them.”
“Worse,” said Ms Cocker, “the Crown is trying Tuhoe Lambert.”
Tuhoe Lambert was the other person charged with ‘participating in an organised criminal group.’ Mr Lambert died in July last year. All proceedings have been stayed against Mr Lambert, however the charges have not been dropped.
“It is an outrage that evidence is been presented against Tuhoe Lambert,” Ms Cocker said. “It is an outrage that they are dragging his name through court. They are prosecuting him as if he is sitting there next to the other four but they have given him no lawyer. Our sympathies and anguish go out to his whanau.”
“We feel for all the people dragged through this saga,” said Ms Cocker. “It is going to be a long court case. It is time that the crown dropped the charges. It is not too late to end this farce.”