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Maori News & Indigenous Views

October15thSolidarity.info NEWSLETTER No. NINETEEN – 14th April 2011

15 min read

Tena koutou,

we send out irregular updates on the campaign to support the people
arrested in the state terror raids in Aotearoa (New Zealand) on 15th
October 2007. Although charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act
were never laid, 18 people are still facing charges under the Arms Act
and 5 are charged with being members of an organised criminal group.
The trial will start in the High Court in Auckland on 30th May.

There are still legal appeals in the Supreme Court first though. As
you may have heard, the Court of Appeal has denied the defendants a
jury trial. The defendants will try and get a hearing in the Supreme
Court about this outrageous decision. There is also a further legal
challenge to evidence in the Supreme Court on 3/4 May.

On a positive note, a documentary – ‘Operation 8: Deep in the Forest’
– will screen in the World Cinema Showcase Film Festival in Auckland,
Wellington and Dunedin this month. Details below.

The Crown seems determined to go ahead with these rubbish charges so
please stay in touch by checking out October15thSolidarity.info,
reading indymedia.org.nz or follow October 15 Solidarity on Facebook.
And please forward this newsletter to your friends, comrades and family.

:: UPCOMING EVENTS
:: RECENT MEDIA RELEASES
:: RECENT ARTICLES AND COMMENTARY
:: DONATIONS
:: RESOURCES
:: LINKS

:: UPCOMING EVENTS

1. OPERATION 8: Deep in the Forest
2. 30 May 2011 – Trial starts

1. OPERATION 8: Deep in the Forest

Documentary film in the World Cinema Showcase Film Festival

Auckland
SKYCITY Theatre
Mon 18 April, 3.00 pm
Mon 18 April, 8.15 pm

Wellington
Paramount
Sun 17 April, 2.45 pm
Mon 25 April, 2.45 pm
Wed 27 April, 3.15 pm

Dunedin
Rialto Cinemas
Mon 9 May, 8.30 pm
Tue 10 May, 11.15 am

Book tickets through the venues.
More information on the film:
http://www.worldcinemashowcase.co.nz/titles11/operation8.html
Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvsNbaukAVY

2. 30 May 2011 – Trial starts

The 12-week trial of 15 of the defendants will start on 30th May in
the Auckland High Court. If you are keen to get involved with an
Auckland solidarity group, please email us on
[email protected]

We haven’t confirmed a rally or protest march around the start of the
trial. We will keep you posted.

:: RECENT MEDIA RELEASES

Jury denied to Urewera raids accused

?The Court of Appeal are refusing to grant a jury trial for the 15
people accused in the so-called ?terror raids?. In essence the Crown
prosecutor has convinced the Court that the case will be too long and
complex for a jury to handle. The Crown is genuinely worried that real
jurors would see through the ridiculousness of the allegations and
drop the charges? said defendant Valerie Morse.

?A jury trial is supposed to be one of the pillars of the western
legal system, but it seems in this case it is inconvenient and
dangerous for the Crown to have the people decide. Five hundred years
of jurisprudence has been thrown out the window in the name of
bureaucratic efficiency and getting the verdict they want. A jury
trial doesn?t offer them the security they need to win.?

?The right to a speedy trial is one of the other pillars of our legal
system, but clearly after nearly four years it no longer matters
either.?

?The whole operation has been a hash up from start to finish. On the
15th of October 2007, the police raided over 60 houses around the
country, blockaded and invaded the small community of Ruatoki, and
rounded up political activists. Now they have to justify their
multi-million dollar dodgy spying operation on the people of Tuhoe and
legitimate political activity.?

?Solicitor-General David Collins refused to bring charges under the
Terrorism Suppression Act in 2007. This matter should have ended then
and there. Now, there is only one way out of this morass, it is for
the Crown to drop the charges against all of the accused.?

:: RECENT ARTICLES AND COMMENTARY

1. Struggling for justice: Supreme Court appeals to come
2. Fran O’Sullivan: Protect our basic right to trial by jury
3. Brian Rudman: Urewera decision fans the flame
4. Grant Illingworth on jury trial
5. Musicians call for jury trial

1. Struggling for justice: Supreme Court appeals to come

There are two appeals before the Supreme Court in relation to
Operation 8 that must be resolved before the trial. The first relates
to the admissibility of a large proportion of the police evidence, and
the second is to get a jury trial. The first appeal is to be heard on
the 3rd and 4th of May at the Supreme court in Wellington. The crown
attempted to get the court to agree to hear the appeal after the
trial, but fortunately, better sense (and legal arguments) prevailed.
The Supreme court is open to public and we encourage supporters to
come along to hear for themselves the issues that are currently
subject to media suppression orders.

The appeal to get a trial by jury has just been filed by defendants.
The defendants have been denied a jury trial by the High Court, and
the Court of Appeal has upheld that. They have also suppressed the
reasons why it will be a trial by judge alone. In the article next to
this, read Fran O?Sullivan article from the New Zealand Herald in
which she argues that the Court of Appeal’s decision to deny the
“Urewera 18” the right to have a jury trial is a major offence to New
Zealand’s proud human rights record. There is no automatic right of
appeal to the Supreme court, rather, ?leave? (e.g. permission) must be
granted by the court before they will agree to hear the case. Thus no
date for an appeal is yet known, if indeed, one is allowed.

The Crimes Act was amended in 2007 allowing the crown to apply for
judge alone. Prior to that only an accused person could apply for a
judge-alone trial (for cases with a possible punishment of 3 months or
more in prison, e.g. very minor cases are usually judge alone).

The frightening thing for New Zealanders is that if the trial is
allowed to go ahead by judge-alone, this will set a very dangerous
precedent. Without a doubt, this is one of the most high profile cases
in modern New Zealand history, with a great deal of genuine public
interest, and public concern over the actions of state agents (e.g.
police, in particular). The jury system is one of the very few checks
against the abuse of state power, and that it is being denied here in
what is clearly a political case is deeply worrying. Other major
changes to the justice system signal that the New Zealand government
wants to further remove basic rights. The Search and Surveillance Bill
and Security Intelligence Bill will have the combined effects of
removing the right to silence, and the right against
self-incrimination alongcoupled with a massive increase in the state’s
ability to conduct surveillance.

2. Fran O’Sullivan: Protect our basic right to trial by jury

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10716484

The Court of Appeal’s decision to deny the “Urewera 18” the right to
have a jury trial is a major offence to New Zealand’s proud human
rights record.

I hold no brief for Tuhoe political activist Tame Iti and the 17
others who were arrested in the wake of police raids on so-called
paramilitary training camps in the Ureweras.

Widely leaked police affidavits painted a colourful story that no
doubt alarmed senior political figures who were briefed by the
security services ahead of the raid.

But the Urewera 18 have been waiting more than three years now to
defend various firearms offences in what is a highly political and
controversial case. Under these circumstances it is surely untenable
for a senior court to rule in the prosecution’s favour and deny these
people a right to have their case heard by a jury of their peers.

Nor is it tenable for the Court of Appeal to refuse to say publicly
why it has ensured the upcoming trial will be one decided by legal
insiders.

New Zealand politicians (I’m thinking of Phil Goff) bang on about how
they challenge Chinese politicians to lift their country’s human
rights game whenever they meet on formal bilateral business. Goff
should look closer to home.

Judging by scarce news coverage, even Greens MP Keith Locke – who has
been the subject of Security Service surveillance – has had little (if
anything) to say on the court’s decision. But unless this carry-on is
challenged this country runs the risk of being set on the path to Star
Chamber hearings, where any activist facing serious charges will
essentially be subject to a secret trial.

Particularly if the evidence is obtained under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

It has been a long time since former police commissioner Howard Broad
called showtime and sent his officers into Tuhoe territory to hunt out
those he believed were planning terrorist attacks. The fact that the
Urewera 18 are not still behind bars suggests the authorities do not
seriously believe any of them pose an immediate threat to public safety.

Otherwise surely the prosecution would been pressured to get this case
to trial with considerable alacrity.

I don’t have an inside knowledge either of the exact grounds that High
Court judge Helen Winkelmann applied when she initially denied the
accused their request for a jury trial. Not only did Winkelmann
suppress her reasoning for her December 9 decision last year but she
also suppressed (for some weeks) the fact that she had made it.

But the fact that the trial will take more than 20 days is not a
sufficiently credible reason for a judge to stop the accused from
being tried in front of a jury. Nor would it be credible to claim that
this case is imbued with such complexity that a layman jury could not
reach a decision on the basis of the accused’s response to the Crown’s
evidence.

At its heart, the Urewera 18 case is not complex. It is being made
complex by the prosecution’s apparent drive to retrofit the case so
that the police can use what was initially deemed illegally gained
evidence to bolster their submissions.

A judge-alone trial might make sense where a layman jury would
struggle if it had to pick its way through complex evidence in a
criminal commercial trial (particularly where defendants have relied
on butt-covering legal advice to justify dubious board decisions).

But even then it is possible a jury might well apply more commonsense
than a judge whose training will have imbued him/her with the notion
that senior commercial players have a “right” to rely on advice.

This leaves the question of the jury’s own safety. Are the judges
concerned that laymen might be intimidated by Iti and his fellow
accused? If that is the case, why not simply say so?

Trial by jury is a long-standing right which must continue to be
valued. And in a high-profile trial like this one a jury is better
placed to ensure public accountability.

The New Zealand judiciary’s own reputation took a pounding when a
special deal was cut to allow former Court of Appeal judge Bill Wilson
to resign gracefully from the bench after he faced a conflict of
interest investigation.

Confidence needs to be built back into the system. The Court of
Appeal’s ruling must be challenged in the Supreme Court in the wider
public interest. If it delays the May 19 start to the upcoming trial
(brought forward from the original August start date which would have
conflicted with the Rugby World Cup) so be it.

3. Brian Rudman: Urewera decision fans the flame

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10717311

The court’s backing of a judge-alone hearing threatens the sanctity of
the jury system, writes Brian Rudman.

Last week the Court of Appeal upheld Justice Helen Winkelmann’s
decision to deny the 18 people arrested during the 2007 Urewera
“terror” raids a trial by jury. Their trials, scheduled for late May
in Auckland, will be heard before a judge alone.

We don’t know why, because publication of the reasons behind both
decisions is banned.

All we can go on is the change of law in 2008, which allows a judge to
rule that a case be heard by judge alone in cases which are likely to
be long and complex and cases in which there is a significant risk of
jury intimidation.

Whatever the reasoning behind Justice Winkelmann and the Court of
Appeal’s decision, the result is to add fuel to a political bushfire
that has been flaring since more than 300 police officers, waving
firearms and copies of the Terrorism Suppression Act, raided
“terrorist cells” across the Bay of Plenty in October 2007.

The Solicitor-General subsequently ruled out charges under the
Terrorism Suppression Act, but firearms charges still remain.

The justice system, by compounding the atmosphere of secrecy and
intrigue that has dogged this case for nearly four years, has now made
a rod for its own back. Whatever the reality, the courts now risk
being seen as part of this whole sorry saga.

There’s no reason to doubt the accused will get a fair trial before a
judge sitting alone. But as the Law Commission emphasises in its 2001
report on juries in criminal trials, “the ancient institution of trial
by jury” brings a democratic element to court proceedings that makes
it “the best forum for the trial of almost all serious criminal cases
in New Zealand”.

In his covering note to ministers, Law Commission president Justice
David Baragwanath noted, “The virtual absence of criticism of the
conduct of juries, in even the most controversial cases, is striking.

“The essentially anonymous verdict of ordinary citizens chosen at
random give to the process the legitimacy of total independence; they
are indeed the ‘little parliament’ to which community decision making
is delegated.”

In the report, the commission underlines that “the core value
underlying the functions of the jury is its democratic nature”.

Addressing the argument that complex trials are best left to expert
judges, the commission states that “if the jury fails to understand
the evidence then injustice can result. But this does not indicate a
need to abolish or, in general, to restrict trial by jury.

“Instead it indicates a need for better procedures and better tools to
ensure that complex evidence is presented clearly and in an
understandable form.”

It conceded that “a very small proportion of trials, usually involving
fraud or complex evidence, are too long and arguably too complex to be
tried by jury”. But the upcoming Urewera trials don’t appear to fit
either of those bills.

The problem for the justice system in this case is that in an attempt,
presumably, to ignore the political storm swirling around this case it
has become a part of the political debate, whether it wanted to or not.

To help maintain the integrity of the justice system and avoid being
caught up in the political backlash, the judges should have used the
discretion at their disposal to opt for the jury trial.

If there is a positive note, it is that in the growing furore around
this ruling some light might shine on the Criminal Procedure (Reform
and Modernisation) Bill introduced into Parliament late last year,
containing what Justice Minister Simon Power described at the time as
“the biggest change to the criminal justice system in 50 years”.

Among his proposals to help unclog the system was “reserving jury
trials for the most serious and complex cases”. This, we’re told,
would result in “a reduction of 25-45 per cent in the jury trial
workload”, or 300 to 600 fewer jury trials a year. Accompanying notes
to the bill also point out that a jury trial runs up district court
processing costs of $20,000 compared with about $2000 for hearing
before a judge alone. This and the other proposed reforms were
estimated to save about $24.3 million over a five-year period.

Civil jury trials seem to have died out without any public hue and
cry. Now it seems to be the turn of the criminal jury, with
politicians sniffing around for ways to cut costs and streamline the
system.

It’s not necessarily sinister. Many criminal defendants already appear
before a judge alone – many by choice. But to a layman, brought up on
the sanctity of the jury system as one of the bedrocks of our liberty
and our democratic system, it seems a change by stealth that needs to
be brought out into the light.

We grew up believing in the “little parliament” concept that Justice
Baragwanath referred to. Is it any wonder there’s growing disquiet
about the Urewera defendants not being allowed a trial before their
peers?

4. Grant Illingworth on jury trial

From Radio NZ. Grant Illingworth speaks about the decision to deny
the”Urewera 18″the right to a jury trial. (duration: 12’23?)
http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/ntn/ntn-20110406-1136-Legal_correspondent_-_Grant_Illingworth-048.mp3

5. Musicians call for jury trial

http://www.capitaltimes.co.nz/article/3969/Musicianscallforjurytrial.html

Standing in solidarity: James Coyle, Ria Hall, Iraia Whakamoe, Jessie
Moss, Kaahuia Te Kahika, Valerie Morse, Luke Buda, Andy Hummel, Mara
TK, Warren Maxwell.

WELLINGTON musicians are rallying support for 15 people arrested in
the 2007 Urewera ?terror raids?, who will now be tried by judge-alone,
at the High Court in Auckland on May 30. Charges made under the
Terrorist Supression Act were dropped in 2007, but firearms and
organised criminal group charges remain. Last week, the Court of
Appeal upheld Justice Helen Winkelman?s decision to deny the 15 a
trial by jury.

Local musicians, including members of Little Bushman, The Phoenix
Foundation, Jessie James and the Outlaws, Fly My Pretties, Woolshed
Sessions, Electric Wire Hustle, Trinity Roots and The Nudge, have
signed a letter to Minister Simon Power and Attorney-General Chris
Findlayson, calling for trial by jury.

?I am firm in my belief and understanding that the accused in this
case are not terrorists, do not belong to a criminal gang, and do not,
as the public has been lead to think, stash guns under their beds.
Rather, this bunch consists of some of the most intelligent and
respected people in New Zealand, who consistently stand up for human
and animal rights, the environment and tino rangatiratanga,? says
musician Jessie Moss.

?The whole terrorist premise is just another example of how
individuals? basic rights are being undermined and disregarded in the
name of national security,? says Rio Hemopo, of Trinity Roots.

Publication of the reasons behind the judge-only decision is
forbidden, so defendants and supporters can only speculate.

?If, the Crown has a solid case to put forward, why will they not let
a jury see it?? asks Moss.
The right to trial by jury is not absolute, under section 361D of the
Crimes Act, amended in 2008, a judge may order trial without jury in
cases ?that are likely to be long and complex?.

Moss says: ?This trial?s set to take 12 weeks. So many cases have gone
beyond that, but were still tried in front of a jury.?

In early 2007, well-known Wellington activist Valerie Morse released
Against Freedom: The War on Terrorism in Everyday New Zealand Life, a
book about what she saw as the role of government and media in the
?war on terror?. Just months later, Morse was arrested in the raids.

?At 5:45am, there was a swarm of police at my door. A woman detective
told me that I would be charged with ?participation in a terrorist
group?. I almost laughed at the time because it was the most absurd
thing I had ever heard. But they took us to court that afternoon, and
refused to grant us bail. That is when it really hit home: we weren?t
leaving anytime soon. Indeed, we went to solitary confinement at
Arohata prison,? she says.
Morse will be tried by judge-only, for both firearms and organised
criminal group charges.

?Trial by jury is one of the pillars of the Western legal system. It
is one of the key differences between places like New Zealand and many
dictatorial regimes. The resources of the State in pursuing a criminal
prosecution are almost limitless, while for a person accused of a
crime, their resources are very limited,? she says.

?The high public interest in the case means that a jury trial is the
only valid option.?

:: DONATIONS

Cheques – Please make your cheque payable to ‘October 15 Solidarity’,
and post to October 15 Solidarity, PO Box 9263, Wellington, New Zealand.

Wire or Transfer Details – Bank: Kiwibank, Account name: October 15
Solidarity, Account Number: 38-9007-0239672-000

This is a Wellington based group that formed in the immediate
aftermath of the raids. It does both support work and political
organising. Deposits made with the code “Support” will be dedicated
towards supporting all those affected by the raids, arrests and
on-going court appearances.

:: RESOURCES

The www.October15thSolidarity.info website is regularly updated. The
website aims to be multilingual and gives background information
aswell as updates on legal proceedings. There are poster, newsletters
and leaflets available here:
http://october15thsolidarity.info/en/node/236

A DROP THE CHARGES leaflet can downloaded here:
http://october15thsolidarity.info/sites/default/files/drop%20the%20charges%20A4.pdf

:: LINKS

www.October15thSolidarity.info | www.indymedia.org.nz | www.tuhoe.net
| www.gpja.org.nz

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Solidarity!

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